This post is part of a series filling out details on the 5-step sales process [Link to #16]

  • Building Rapport; [Link to #20]
  • Asking Questions; [ Link to #21]
  • Establishing Need & Value-Add; [Link to #22]
  • Proposing a Solution; [Link to #23]
  • Closing the Sale. [Link to #24]

I’ve listed them sequentially, but of course you are doing many of these steps simultaneously.  While you’re asking questions, you continue to build rapport … and you’ll keep asking questions as  you move into establishing their need for your product or service and highlighting the value it brings to them.

Why Ask Questions?

The reason you want to ask questions is to learn about your prospect – to discover the things that are important to them about a product or service, the problems they are trying to solve, their decision-making strategy, and their level of interest.  All of this information will help you:

  • Decide whether your product/service is suitable for them;
  • Understand which features and benefits are most important to them;
  • Determine how to present your solution;
  • See what time-frame you will be working with.

What Kind of Questions Do You Want to Ask?

Your questions should be directly related to the business of the person you are interviewing and phrased in the the language they use, so you’ll need to tweak the following questions for each prospect:-

  • What do you do? What are you interested in?
  • For what purpose do you want this?
  • What would be a successful outcome if we went ahead with this?
  • Who will make the decision on this matter?
  • How will you know if this product/service is right for you?
  • What is important to you about this?
  • When will you make a decision on this?

– these questions will help you learn about why the person is talking to you, and how seriously they are considering your product/service.  In a business context, it is much better to disqualify a prospect quickly than to spend a lot of time talking to someone who is just getting information from you.  Of course, you don’t want to be too abrupt about this because people move around, their circumstances change, and they may recommend you to others, but if you discover that they have no intention of buying at this time, you will modify your process appropriately.  This is actually very beneficial, because you get the information you need, and you don’t force them into a situation where they are uncomfortable.

One key thing you need to uncover during this process is whether the person you are talking to is a key decision-maker or not.  If they don’t have the power to sign off on the deal then you know that you’re dealing with either a gate-keeper, or simply an ideas-person.  If you are dealing with someone who is just bringing ideas to the table then you don’t want to spend too much time or energy on them.  If it’s a gate-keeper, then your goal has to be to get their attention and interest so that they can introduce you to the decision-makers.

Whatever the situation, asking questions brings clarity and help you get the outcomes you are looking for.

Meta Description:  The quality of your life may be determined by the quality of the questions you ask, but the value of your sales certainly will be.

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