There is no doubt that the best tool that a salesperson has is questioning techniques. Also, there is no doubt that there are extremely poor questioning techniques being used by some of these same salespeople. In subsequent blogs, we will be delving into an array of questions and techniques to get information and to help the client come to their own conclusion.
Note, I stated: ‘to help the client come to their own conclusion.’ This is much better than you making the decision for them and then ramming it through.
The first question that you have to ask yourself; as well as ultimately your clients is: ‘Am I even talking to the right person?’ It is amazing how many people mistake ‘needs’ questions as qualifying questions. Some studies have shown that as high as 99% of what people think are qualifying questions are actually ‘need’ questions.
A true ‘qualifying’ question is a question that determines if the person we are talking to can make the final buying decision. If they are not, then why are you talking to them? A lot of people come right out and say: ‘Bill, do you make the buying decisions?’ This question, in all likelihood, is going to put up some walls of resistance, as well as possible false information. Some may say: ‘Of course I can,’ but knowing full well that it needs to be approved by someone else. Being that blunt and forward will damage the bonding and rapport that is so important in the sales cycle.
One must always protect the wellbeing of the prospect and make sure that they are ‘ok’ in any conversation. Therefore, it is in your best interest to use a nurturing technique, but still get the information required as to who you should be talking to. It could go something like: “Bill, you have been with this firm for a while and have a lot of responsibilities. I was wondering, besides yourself, is there anyone else that would be involved in the decision for moving forward?” You have given Bill a compliment and have made him feel important. He has responsibilities, has risen in the firm and may be part of the decision making process and the chances of him being untruthful at this point are greatly diminished. Bill could still tell you: ‘No,’ but the likelihood of that being untruthful is less than in the first scenario.
If it comes out that there are others that have to be involved in the decision, then you can now follow-up with: ‘Great. Any chance that they may be part of the meeting so that I can explain and answer all the questions regarding the product/service?’ If Bill objects, you may then add: ‘I have no problem with you presenting the information to the others Bill, but I’m just concerned that they may come up with questions, or, objections that did not come up during our initial meeting. You may not have the answer to them and I’d hate to put you in that awkward position.’ Again, you are protecting Bill by preventing him looking unaware, uninformed or even inadequate to those who in all likelihood are his superiors. At the same time, you are getting all the decision makers in one room to make the decision therefore, decreasing the sales cycle.
When should the qualifying question be asked? Before you have the meeting, because as mentioned earlier, if they can’t make the final decision, why are you even talking to them?