sales questions

Smart Sales Questions Get Better Answers–And More Sales

A huge part of my Smart Calling cold calling sales training process– and any good sales process or system–is the effective use of questions. Although everyone knows how to sales question, many do not know how to do it well in order to accomplish sales objectives.

Let’s look at just a few areas where you might be able to sharpen your sales questioning skills, and results.

First, I suggest reviewing your call recordings to analyze the questions you ask. Listen for questions you should avoid, such as,

“Does that happen a lot?”

“Do you experience that often?”

“Was there much of an impact?”

Think about if a customer answered yes or no to those questions. You wouldn’t really know any more than before you asked.

Instead, get better information by asking for specific information:

“What has been the impact on your department in terms of increased sales?”

“How often has that happened in the past three months?”

Use Benefit Questions Instead of Inane Leading Ones

Some managers and trainers suggest the use of leading questions to evoke a positive response, such as

“Of course you would like to save money on your supplies, wouldn’t you?”

“Naturally, if you could increase production, you would want that, wouldn’t you?”

“Quality is important to you, isn’t it?”

Don’t use them. These questions are inane, and they put the listener on the spot. They’re backed into a corner where they look and feel like an idiot unless they answer the way the questioner wants them to. You might as well just say, “Of course you don’t want to be stupid, do you?”

However, the premise behind the inane questions–to prompt the prospect to agree that they might be interested in what you have to offer–shouldn’t be discarded. One way to accomplish this is to present a beneficial situation from another customer’s perspective, and then ask the prospect if that appeals to them. For example:

“Jane, many of our clients in the garment industry have been able to save 15 percent on their seasonal purchases by using our buying network. Is that something you’d like to learn more about?”

“Jason, we’re established with many of the largest corporate headquarters here in town as a printer that can provide quick turnaround when their in-house shops can’t. Would you ever have a need for a service like that?”

Using questions according to this formula is less threatening than the inane questions and opens up the conversation to deeper questioning and a further examination of their specific needs.

Don’t Ask What They Like Best about Their Present Supplier

An oft-suggested response when a prospect says, “We’re happy with our present supplier” is“What do you like best about them?”

I suggest not wording it that way, and my reasoning for this was formed while listening to a particular sales rep ask that question on a call.

The prospect went into a long explanation of why his supplier was the greatest company ever formed, how he would never leave them, and how their service was excellent. He sounded like he was becoming a bit weepy in his adulation.

Since the intent of the question is to find out their ideal requirements and desires from a vendor, let’s ask in different ways:

“What were the criteria you used when you chose your present supplier?”

“What were the determining factors in selecting the company you’re now using?”

“When you evaluate vendors, what is the typical process you go through?”

“If for some reason a regular vendor doesn’t perform well, what do you do?”

These are just a few points on questioning that can help you get better answers, which will move you closer to your sales objectives. In my free ebook, Telephone Tips that Sell- 501 How to Ideas and Affirmations to Help You Get More Business By Phone, I share many more with you. Get it at the top of the page, or click here.