How’s this for being put on the spot?
I’m speaking to an annual meeting of a large international manufacturing organization. Top management and salespeople from around the world in front of me. The CEO of the company impolitely interrupts my remarks to demand an immediate answer to a question.
No warning. No notice. No thinking about it. In front of hundreds.
“Tell me… right now… the one thing we should be doing to significantly increase our sales?
The answer? (Fortunately for me, it was an easy one.)
I said without hesitation… “Ask better questions.”
You see, it is through the questions we ask that we uncover true buying motives, how they have decided things in the past and all the specific conditions that must be satisfied for them to buy from us.
Two important points about conducting a successful sales appointment. It could be with a prospective or existing customer. You could be renewing an order or cross-selling something new.
1. People will spill their guts and tell us exactly how to sell them… if we enable them to do so. People love to talk about themselves. Let them. Steer them. Draw from them information you can use to close.
2. We close on the details. The questions we ask are important. The follow-up questions are even more so.
You get complete information, and you get the details you will ultimately be using to close, when you ask good follow-up questions.
Is there anything else? And that means what?
If your competition is getting more information and details then you are, who is more likely to get the deal?
Ask good questions.
Make sure you ask better follow-up questions.
Choreograph your questions and follow-up questions with more care than a Baryshnikov Ballet.
Here are 30 questions to stimulate your thinking about how you can obtain information that will help you close more business.
1.Project forward 12 months. What is different about your business? What do you want to accomplish?
2. What are your major challenges?
3. Describe your process for… ?
4. Are you experiencing problems with… ?
5. What are your customers telling you about…?
6. How much staff time does it take…?
7. Do you have any concerns in the area of… ?
8. Do you have any in-house expertise for…?
9. Describe your biggest unmet needs in terms of… ?
10. If someone needs what you offer, what keeps them from buying from you?
11. Are there any common misperceptions customers/clients/accounts have about your business?
12. What are the most significant benefits people get when buying from you?
13. What are your two most important sales events each year?
14. Where does most of your business come from? How much?
15. Is your business experiencing the kind of growth you need/want? Why not?
16. How are you addressing this?
17. Is there anything else I should know/we should discuss before I make some recommendations/discuss some options with you?
18. Is there anything else?
19. And the significance of that to you is what?
20. Are there other individuals involved in this decision?
21. How did you decide that?
22. Why did you select that process?
23. Why did you change vendors?
24. Why did you select that vendor? That marketing method? That process?
25. What is the company history with…?
26. Were you personally happy with this decision? With the way things worked out?
27. What are you doing now in regards to… ?
28. Why are you doing it this way?
29. What would you personally like to accomplish in the future?
30. We have all had bad experiences we would like to avoid. Have you had any bad experiences with this you don’t wish to repeat?
Remember, good questions are important.
The follow-up questions are even more important.