Sell More by Asking the Right Questions
By Jack Perry
is a special power that gives you leverage in all negotiations.
The more you know about your prospects and clients, the better
chance you have of providing the specific services and products they
desire. The more times you
give your prospects and clients exactly what they want, the more
likely you are to make them clients for life.
science fiction movies, aliens are often able to communicate their
thoughts telepathically. However,
humans are obviously not that advanced and must rely on speech to
understand and communicate with one another successfully.
Because people can’t read minds, discovering what’s
important to another individual without asking questions is
Because you can’t assume anything.
Each person is different with unique goals, values, dreams, and
aspirations; the things that are important to you might not be
important to anyone else. The
only way you can acquire this knowledge of what’s important is to
ask questions. Unfortunately,
eighty percent of all salespeople do not prepare questions in advance
for sales calls. Therefore,
the majority of lost sales opportunities happen because of the
salesperson’s failure to uncover the prospect’s specific needs.
are the gateway to information. If
you harness the power of questions, you can uncover needs, provide
solutions, and help your clients.
However, to get the best answers, you must ask the best
questions. Use the
following steps to ask the right questions and understand the needs of
your prospects and clients:
Permission: Convey dedication to
serving your prospect or client by obtaining permission to ask
questions. Simply say,
“I’d like to ask you a few questions so I can understand what you
want and how I can best serve you. Would that be all right?”
Once they say, “Yes,” remember to take notes – you
don’t want to forget any valuable information. This act also assures them that you’re paying attention.
build a stone wall of resistance with your questions.
Practice asking your questions in a friendly, non-accusing way.
If you are meeting them in-person, listen with more than just
your ears; listen with your eyes.
Is their body language telling you that they’re
uncomfortable? Are their
eyes sending the same message as their words?
let them know you’re listening with your body language.
As they speak, nod your head, occasionally say, “Um-hum,”
and re-state what they have just said, just to clarify and to indicate
you are listening and really understand.
This is important in-person, but it is also important over the
phone; body language can be conveyed.
are no Stupid Questions:
Knowing and understanding a client or prospect means more than name,
address, and phone number. What’s
their favorite food? Are
they married? Do they have
Where did they go on vacation last year?
What are their hobbies? Where
did they go to school? These
questions, although they may sound unnecessary, will help you
understand where people come from and how they make their decisions.
fact, when you speak with a prospect or client, ask everything that
comes to mind. Then create
a database full of information to help you respond to their needs.
and Closed-ended Questions: Choose
one of these types of questions, depending on what and how much
information you need. An
open-ended question is just that.
It gives the person a wide range of choices from which to
respond. For example, if
you have no idea what qualities a prospect/client is looking for in a
representative, you ask an open-ended question, such as, “What
qualities would your perfect representative possess?”
This gives people leeway to express as many qualities as
closed-ended question allows only a very specific answer.
If you don’t have hours to spend, but still want to know what
your prospect/client desires in a representative, you ask close-ended
questions. For example:
Would the representative be honest?
Be available seven days a week?
Have less than 10 clients he worked with directly?
Questions: In his book, "The
7 Habits of Highly Effective People,"
R. Covey wrote,
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
In other words, you must learn to understand how other people
feel to understand the basis for their statements or questions – not
your interpretation, but what they actually say.
clarifying questions to gain understanding and keep asking questions
until you know exactly what the prospect or client is talking about.
For example, “I need your help.
can also use open-ended clarifying questions to help your prospects
and clients find their own answers and solve personal problems.
For example, if a prospect or client says, “The product
arrived a week later than the salesperson promised.
I never bought from that salesperson again.” You can respond,
“So, what I hear you saying is that the reason you stopped buying
from the salesperson is because he made you a promise and didn’t
follow through. Is that
correct?” Then you know upholding promises is a top priority or
value to this person, and he or she knows you are listening.
Rhetorical Questions: Rhetorical
questions are used for effect or to emphasize a point.
The person asking a rhetorical question doesn’t expect or
need a response; he or she already knows the answer.
For example, if a person suffers a deep cut and goes to the
doctor, few questions would have to be asked.
However, to demonstrate interest and concern for the patient,
the doctor might pose questions like, “Want me to fix this up for
you?” and, “Would you like pain medication?” Rhetorical
questions signify an understanding of the other person’s stance.
can also use rhetorical questions to convey understanding and empathy.
For example, “If I can get the service at twenty percent off
of the original price, would that be alright with you?”
Obviously, the salesperson knows any discount will be
appreciated and accepted.
example, “Can you describe your biggest challenge?” or “How do
you maintain regular contact with your customers?”
Dialogue questions differentiate you from the competition and
increase your credibility.
Questions and Listening:
Understanding the delicacies of communicating (asking), gathering
(listening), and processing (clarifying) information is the most
important aspect of sales success. It takes those three steps to draw you closer to any human
being – and to any sale. When
you ask a prospect or client a question and really listen to the
answer, you speak volumes without uttering a single syllable.
are your highest priority tool in successfully completing a sale.
Use questions as your power tool to get prospects and clients
to share with you their specific needs.
When you understand how questions can work in the sales process
and how to ask the right ones, you can unlock the gateway to important
information and unlimited success.
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