What You Ask Determines What You Sell
In my 30 years of sales training experience, nothing continues to frustrate me more than the pathetic questions salespeople ask. Questions like.
“Who are you using right now?”
“How are they treating you?”
“Do you have a contract?”
“When does your contract expire?”
“Can we place a bid? I think we can save you some money.”
“What kind of budget do you have?”
“Are you the decision maker?”
All of these questions fall under the category of pathetic.
But the three most pathetic questions are.
1. “Have you ever heard of us?”
2. “Tell me a little bit about your company.”
And the granddaddy of all dumb questions.
3. “What would it take to get your business?”
Ask yourself this question: What questions are you asking your customers and prospects that your competition is not asking? If you can’t think of one, then your questions are in jeopardy, and your sales questions will boil down to: “How much is it?” or some other question that has to do with the “price.”
So, what makes a great question? A question about the prospect that makes him or her stop and think, consider new information, and respond to your terms. That’s what I call a value question.
Here, for your question mastery pleasure, are 4.5 reasons that thought-provoking questions will drive sales your way, regardless of your price:
1. Asking powerful questions will make prospects think in new ways. That’s the bold part. You ask questions to get prospects to give you information that will lead you closer to the sale. You want information that affected prospects in the past, so you want to find out about their past experiences. You want to understand their motives for buying. And-you want to find out what criteria they used in selecting you. To get prospects to think in new ways, you have to ask thought-provoking questions. Here’s a good example: “Mr. Jones, what would you do if you lost two of your top ten customers?” That question is followed with: “What’s your plan to keep them loyal?” Now, those are questions that don’t have a specific product or service behind them. They may not fit everyone’s business, but baby, they are thought provoking. You might want to ask yourself the same questions.
2. What you ask sets the tone and the perception for the buyers. When you begin a question with the phrase “What’s been your experience with.?” prospects turn into wisdom providers instead of information providers. Instead of giving them your wisdom, buyers will like you a whole lot more when you ask for their wisdom. Unfortunately, salespeople think they have to “educate” buyers. Nothing could be further from the truth. Buyers don’t want an education. Buyers want answers. Your questions set the stage for the selling process-which is really the buying process. Your job is to set the buying tone by engaging the prospect intellectually and emotionally.
3. What you ask determines the response. If you’re looking to get into a battle about why your product is different from the competition’s product-or why your price is higher-just ask a dumb question about how the competition is treating the customer. If you ask a question about bidding or saving money, your answers are going to be in terms of “price” and “what kind of deal can you give me?” But if you ask value questions-questions about productivity and profit-you’re going to get answers that lead you to your prospects’ motives for buying.
4. What you ask makes or breaks the sale. If you know that questions are critical, why are you spending more time watching TV reruns than developing new questions? (NOTE: I just asked you a value question.) If you know that questions are critical, why don’t you have a list of 25 questions that your competition is not asking? The more thought provoking your questions, the more your prospective buyers will respect you. The higher that respect level is, the more likely they are to be truthful with you and give you insight into the key factors that will determine the sale. They will also begin to share the truth about how the decision is made. Every minute you’re in front of prospects they’re deciding how much they like you, how much they believe you, how much they respect you, how much confidence they have in you, and how much they trust you. All of these factors determine whether or not they will buy from you.
4.5 Your questions are a critical factor in the way customers perceive you. If they’re intelligent and engaging, they consider you a person of value. If your questions are dumb, they consider you a salesperson of price.
The sale is yours for the asking; all you gotta do is ask for it in the right way.
Free GitBit. Want a list of questions to start you off on the smart foot? They’re yours by going to www.Gitomer.com – register if you’re a first time user, and enter the words SMART QUESTIONS in the GitBit box.
Jeffrey Gitomer, the author of The Sales Bible and The Little Red Book of Selling, is President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer service at www.trainone.com. He can be reached by phone: 704/333-1112 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
c 2004 All Rights Reserved – Don’t even think about reproducing this document without written permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer 704/333-1112