Uncover More Opportunity: Ask Great Questions
By Suzanne Bates
not you, it’s me,” is a classic, cliché breakup line and a bad
one, at that. “Me, me,
me” is what most business people talk about during any courtship.
My company, my product, my service is the leading, the best,
the only, the blah, blah, blah.
interesting that the secret to success in business is not the word
“me,” but the word “you.” Count the
words in the average conversation or sales letter, chances are the
words “I” and “my” are heard many times more often than the
words “you” and “your.” Yet
all people want to talk about is them!
can set themselves apart and uncover far more opportunity if they
begin every conversation by focusing the “you” point of view.
“How do you see it?” “What’s
your take on this?” “How
would you like to see this resolved?”
Try asking a question without using the word you!
It isn’t easy. Switching
into “question mode” forces a salesperson to use the word
“you,” which leads to opportunity.
A lot of
people believe they are asking good questions--but if they were to
videotape mock sales or business conversations, they can see their
questions are not productive. The
mistake they make is not going deep enough to uncover real issues,
challenges, and needs.
this: If an office was in need of a new copier, they would
shop around and look at a few different models, at a few different
stores. Which one would
they end up buying? The
model from the sales representative who finally asked, “What do you
really need? How much will
you actually use the copier?” That
salesperson might not have had a huge elaborate pitch, but they asked
the right questions and made the sale.
sales representative for a copier store or a partner at a firm trying
to land a big client, the salesperson needs to ask great questions.
They not only find out what people want, or get a whole picture
of their point of view; they send the strong impression that they
actually care about the customer.
There is no influencing the outcome, until the customer
believes the salesperson is listening and cares about them.
also lead to a deeper level in conversation.
If a conversation is allowed to breathe, one will find out
about the deeper, more important needs or desires.
Often, the “presenting” need is not the big one –
questions will help uncover the real trouble.
taking this step it’s far easier to precisely tailor a presentation
for the audience. By
taking the time to truly understand a customer, the salesperson will
not have wasted anyone’s time and will have formed the basis for an
Questions also imply that a salesperson has
the answers and expertise. If
they know what to ask, they must know the answers. Questions help avoid the hard sell.
If the right questions are asked, the other person articulates
the needs and solutions. The
salesperson doesn’t do the work; the customer does.
When a customer is doing the talking, they are more likely to
buy. They reaches their
own conclusions. They
don’t feel pushed.
the most important quality to questions is they help develop stronger
questions are asked, people believe the asker is genuinely curious.
They are more interested in the sale, because the salesperson
is interested in them.
questions encourage people to open up. This is one of the most
powerful assets in selling ideas, products or services.
Open questions work best in this phase of conversation.
These are Who?, What?, When?, Where?, Why?, and How?
preparation for the next important meeting, write down a list of
questions to ask. Anticipate
what the other person’s needs or concerns will be, and tailor the
questions to that. Many
people prepare for an important meeting by buffing up on their
specialties, by practicing their routine speech about what they’re
good at. A salesperson
will stand out from the rest if they go into the meeting or
presentation with a list of questions that delve into what the other
needs or thinks.
Here are a
few examples of great questions:
What could we do to make this a good meeting, well
worth your time?
What are your goals?
What is the biggest challenge you’re facing
What is it costing you in time/money/resources?
What would be an ideal outcome?
Is there anything else we need to talk about
Read other articles and learn more
about Suzanne Bates.
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