right question“We are currently having issues with our supplier on…” You think: “Great! I now have something in which to make us look better than the competition.” You think this because you have yet to achieve the art of the next question.

Questions form the solid base to any sales calls. This should now be entrenched in everyone’s mind. The question then becomes, what kind of questions should you be asking?

I wish I could give you a list of questions to ask, but I cannot. Every situation is different, every prospect/client is also different and every industry is unique in its own right. However, this does not mean you should not have questions ready to ask.

When working with us, one of the first exercises we have you do is to come up with twenty questions that pertain to your unique industry. We then look at the most common scenarios in your industry and find which questions will get you even more information from the prospect/client.

A good example, using the statement which started this blog is instead of stating: “Well our Company would never let that happen and you can be assured we would do everything in our power to make it right.” This gives you no further insight into the challenge nor how it actually impacts the prospect/client. Instead, use: “What are the repercussions on your business because of the current situation?”

Sometimes there are none and we could be going into a solution which has nothing to do with what is really required. However, how would you know if you did not get further information?

Some will get a little morsel, such as the first statement, and start interrogating the client/prospect putting them at ill at ease, defensive, closed off and disengaged. The old adage of; ‘the more questions you ask the more sales you make’ is quite true. However, they must be the right question at the right time and delivered in the right way.

Questions should aim to produce more data, issues, challenges, solutions to the challenge, consequences of not fixing the challenge, the value of getting the challenge taken care of with a clear outcome. It should not include statements to belittle your competition or interrogate the client/prospect.

Write down the questions which worked for you in the past. Ask your colleagues or others what questions worked for them. Read books on questioning techniques. Enroll in programs, workshops which deal with sales questions. Keep a list and then bring them out and put them into action the next time you have an opportunity.

The development of your questions should start with a broad open-ended one followed by a probing question and ending with a clarifying one which should take you to a logical next step. Once the next step is established the process can repeat itself until the final step, the sale is done.

The fortunate part of questioning is the ability to practice it in your everyday life. The next time you are with friends and family start a conversation with a question and make sure your response is always in the form of another question. See how far you can go without making a statement. Practice this technique and you will find it easier to do it in front of a prospect/client.

Never forget, in sales, a question you ask is more important than anything else you’ll say.

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