Are you boring prospects with your questions?
Questioning or probing as it is also known, is one of the most important skills you can learn when dealing with prospects and customers. The ability to ask questions that uncover important information about a prospect's needs, current supply and willingness to change is a strong characteristic of a ‘consultative' selling approach.
When you ask ‘thinking, open style' questions it can help you to win new business much quicker and with fewer objections. Additionally, when you help prospects to think about the needs of their business and to really think about current or potential problems or challenges they may face, they start to see you differently and understand the value you can add to them or their business.
This style of questioning provides an opportunity to investigate the prospect's strategies and goals, allowing you to align your product/service with the achievement of their business objectives.
Many prospects have a reluctance to change and think that the way they are doing things is fine. So when you try and tell them what to do or tell them what they are doing is wrong, they can offended and stop listening. However, if you ask questions that ‘probe' into uncover hidden problems, needs or frustrations, it helps the prospect to realise, that it might be worthwhile investigating this with you further.
As I've discussed previously in my article "Are you asking questions that make your prospects think?" there are 2 types of questions: open questions and closed questions. It is very easy to get caught up in asking closed questions, which means you will have to ask a lot of questions to get the information you need and the prospect may feel as though they are being interrogated. Instead, ask open questions, that lets the prospect freely answer and provide you with whatever information they think you need, you can then clarify this by using closed questions.
Open questions need to be asked at different stages of the sale and for different purposes. There are:
Information Gathering Questions such as:
‘What do you think is causing the low morale?'
‘How many do you think you'll be wanting?'
Opinion Finding Questions such as:
‘What do you think of that idea?'
‘How does that sound?'
It is better to say, ‘How often does that happen?' (open) rather than ‘Does that happen often?' (closed)
Closing Questions or asking for commitment:
‘How many would you like; 120 or 130?'
‘When will you have an hour for a presentation?'
‘Is there anyone else who would benefit from being in the presentation?'
‘When would you like to begin, this week or next week?'
At the end of the sale when you are asking for commitment, use might like to use alternatives rather than open questions. For example ‘How many will you need; 100 or 150?' rather than ‘How many do you need?'
Open questions are used to gather information, closed questions are used to qualify this information and to ensure you have the correct understanding of the situation. This means that you will need to really ‘listen' and pay attention to the answers for hidden or unclear problems, frustrations, desires and needs.
Happy Selling !