Your ability to ask quality questions will be one of the major differences between whether you are successful at selling or not.
The quality of the questions you ask directly impacts the prospect’s sense of whether you are equipped to assist them and will be central to your ability to actually win the sale.
The average salesperson bombards the prospect with questions that provide an opportunity to talk about their products or service. The best salespeople ask questions that educate both parties about the prospect’s current position.
The Average Approach
I would like you to put your consumer’s hat on for a moment. Think about some of the sales approaches you have experienced when considering whether to buy a particular product or service.
What sort of approach did the salesperson take?
As a general rule, you can easily recognise an average salesperson because they only need the vaguest of idea about what you’re interested in before they launch head-long into their spiel.
They give you facts, figures, features, examples and personal anecdotes, asking only the occasional question which allows them to keep firing evidence at you.
Recently I witnessed the effects of an average salesman firsthand.
Our washing machine had packed it in, so we needed to go shopping for a replacement machine. When we arrived in the store, we had not been browsing long before the salesman approached to offer us assistance.
My wife explained we needed a new machine and asked a specific question.
That was all he needed as he immediately launched into a monologue which included all the machines he wouldn’t sell us and why, numerous features of machines that were not suitable, before finally finishing off by telling us the machine he would recommend was the same one he sold his own mother just a few months earlier.
He was about to begin his next barrage of useless information when my wife interrupted him to ask if she could have the short answer to her question.
He looked confused.
What he failed to realise was he’d fallen into the classic sales trap of trying to CONVINCE us about which machine to buy, when in fact what he needed to do was DISCOVER what our needs were.
Selling is typically divided into two categories: Convincing Selling and Discovery Selling. Unfortunately most people drop into convincing mode.
Dissatisfied with the service we’d received from this washing machine salesman, we thanked him and said we would think about it and left.
Suffice to say, he did not get the sale. We went down the road to another store and bought the machine there.
It’s All In The Questions
If you are going to assist a prospect to make the right decision for them, you are going to have to ask the right type of questions.
The quality of the questions you ask will determine the information you receive. As a salesperson, this information is critical to your ability to provide good advice.
If you want to avoid being perceived as a pushy salesperson, you must learn what the needs of the prospects are.
Remember, if a prospect has no need, there will be no sale. The reality is, however, that many sales are lost (like my washing machine example) not because there was no need, but because the salesperson failed to establish what the true need was.
Peak Performer Mindset
The peak performer always seeks to first understand their prospects needs. They know this can only be achieved by asking the prospect quality questions to gain a complete awareness of the prospect’s needs, concerns and desires.
The peak performer recognises their role is not to try and squeeze or push the prospect into a box that suits their range of products or services, but rather to seek a tailored solution that meets the needs of the individual.
A Different Question
A great resource for exploring different types of questions you can ask can be found in Neil Rackham’s excellent book, ‘SPIN Selling’. SPIN is an acronym which stands for:
- Needs Pay-off
What Rackham discovered through his extensive research of salespeople across a wide range of industries was that the most successful salespeople in any industry were the ones who asked the best questions.
If you want to learn the right questions to ask and when to ask them, simply download a copy of my FREE eBook, Becoming a Peak Sales Performer. Click here now to Download
This book will put you on the fast track to success and walk you through the keys to Rackham’s SPIN model.
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