In Part 1 of this article, we looked at why it’s important in sales to become skilled at asking probing questions when speaking with your customers. With this approach, rather than relying on assumptions and a gut feeling about the needs of clients, the outcome is that you obtain hard facts and information you need…and that helps you generate more sales in less time.
It’s all about adopting an investigative reporter’s fact-finding approach!
Previously, I provided you with a case study to illustrate how an accomplished sales professional can start digging for important additional information about a customer’s needs. To recap: imagine you are at a networking event and you find yourself with an opportunity to speak one-on-one with Emily, the COO of the MegaSuper Widget Manufacturing Company and you want to gauge her interest in your company’s service, which is called Super Shipping Express.
Now, in Part 2, let’s move this conversation forward a little further to demonstrate how you can use probing questions to help get the positive results you are looking for.
You discover that Emily is familiar with your firm’s Super Shipping Express service and indicates she’s heard positive reviews. She mentions that she will be looking at several options over the coming months, both locally and internationally, and expresses some interest in having you meet with her executives to see how your Super Shipping Express could meet their requirements. After that they will narrow their choices and examine each in-depth.
After Emily says "I like the service you’ve described and I have heard positive reviews…" Ask:
- Tell me more about what you’ve heard. What do you know about our service?
- How did you first learn about our Super Shipping Express service?
- In terms of the needs of your firm, what’s the key value of our service to you?
- How do you see us fitting in with the way you’re planning on doing business?
After Emily explains "We are going to be looking at several options, locally and internationally…” Ask:
- Tell me about the different options.
- How did you select them?
- Where are you in the process of looking at the other options?
- What do you think about them so far?
When Emily indicates that she’d be interested in having you come in for a meeting to discuss your Super Shipping Express service, don’t agree to the meeting until you find out the answer to the following:
- Tell me about your expectations of that meeting.
- Tell me about the people that will be there.
- What do you mean by "how we could meet requirements?” What would that entail?
- What would your advice be for me on the best way to make this meeting a success?
Lastly, if Emily indicates "they will narrow their choices and examine each in-depth.
” be sure to find out:
- What criteria will you be using to narrow it down to the two?
- Tell me about the people that will be involved in the narrowing-down process.
- What would your advice be for me on the best way to ensure that we’re one of the two finalists?
By playing the role of investigative reporter and asking probing questions, you’ll find that you’ll spend less time trying to determine what matters to your customers, that will get you better aligned with what they need, and that you will be able to do so quickly. Moreover, it will help reinforce in the eyes of your customers that you’re a keen listener who takes the extra time to find out more about the people with whom you do business.
It all adds up to selling more with greater ease in less time: and that’s the recipe to sales success in any market.