The Sales Challenge: Asking Great Questions
By Stephen Pead - Director, Sales Solutions
I believe focus is the greatest challenge for salespeople today, and it’s the greatest single solution to their many challenges. In my 30 plus years of experience in the sales profession, I have identified several places where focus will gain you the greatest results and best outcomes. At the top of that list is focusing on the skill of asking better sales questions.
Of all the things that you can do and say when you are talking with a customer (or potential customer), there is none that comes close to the power of asking a great or thought provoking question. Nothing comes close to formulating powerful questions.
The following are some of the most powerful questions you can ask a customer - some are specifically for the first meeting. These questions will provide you with the insights to determine how or where you may be able to offer value, where challenges and opportunities exist and what the customer is thinking. More importantly, these questions will encourage the customer to speak freely; maybe even prompting the response. “nobody ever asked me that before”.
1. What has changed most about your business in the last ___ year(s)?
2. What do your customers most value about your company?
3. Describe the biggest challenges you are facing? Is there a financial impact?
4. Which suppliers are you currently using? Who are the most effective?
5. Can you tell me about some of the most exciting future business opportunities?
6. How do you measure success in the area of _______?
7. What is your competition doing that you should be doing?
8. Where do you have a competitive advantage?
9. Other than yourself, who else will be involved in the decision to move forward?
10. What one thing, if you could finalise it this week, would make you really excited?
11. What three major things have contributed to your success so far?
12. On a scale of 1-10 how important is this ________ to you?
13. What conditions need to be satisfied for our companies to do business together?
14. What do your sales people tell you about the market (or your competition or customers)?
If there is only one practice as a professional salesperson upon which you can focus, make it the mastery of asking better questions, great questions, thought provoking questions.
Bonus Idea: At your next sales meeting why not discuss this article then have a team brainstorm to find another 20 great questions to ask? Don’t forget to make some of them industry specific.
About the author: Stephen Pead is a marketing and media industry veteran of 30 years with significant experience in sales, sales management and general management. He is based in Sydney and specialises in providing high performance sales training for salespeople and sales managers via his company Sales Solutions.