Being a good salesperson is a lot like being a good detective. You need to ask a lot of good questions. The reality of asking a good question is practice and preparation. This is an essential sales and life skill that is not learned overnight. I laugh when I think of some of the questions I asked when I was first in sales. I started in copiers with Xerox and while they provided exceptional training, I was still greener than a $3 bill. My first few weeks out in the field I began to meet with my potential and existing clients. I was selling copiers and fax machines and when I sat down with the decision maker I remember asking things like “So you’re in the market for a copier?”, “Do you have any copying needs?” That was bad, very bad.
Fortunately I’ve had some time over the years to enhance my probing and questioning skills. I ask purposeful well thought out questions that have meaning and don’t waste my customers time. Before, I was afraid of the silence in the room so I started talking, not filtering anything that was coming out of my mouth. Now, before the meeting I sit down and plan my meeting goals and prep myself for what I think the customer will want to talk about and what their questions will be.
In addition, good questions are a byproduct of exceptional listening. We need to learn how to stop talking (duct tape works well) and listen to what our customer is saying. Only then can we connect and fully understand our customers needs. I promise this skill will provide the best sales and happiest customers because your customers will know you truly seek to understand their needs. Sadly, many sales training programs focus on product features and benefits are not trained on listening skills. Many new reps spew needless knowledge about their product that the customer doesn’t care to hear. Let’s hope that these salespeople are on the opposing team so we can show our customers how we listen intently which always leads to a great question.
I would love to hear your thoughts!
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