To be successful at sales, you need to do more than just sell a product or service – you need to build relationships, understand customer needs, and close deals.
Our previous article identified six advanced selling skills critical for sales success and focused on the primary “active listening” skill.
Now we turn to another vital skill in the customer-focused sales process: the ability to ask questions.
Asking questions is a crucial sales skill. You can gather information about your prospect’s needs and pain points by asking the right questions. You can then use this knowledge to tailor your sales pitch and close the deal.
Here are some tips to get the other party engaged in talking even before you begin to ask questions:
Asking too many questions can be off-putting. You don’t want to come across as pushy or interrogative. And you always want to let your prospect do most of the talking while you listen.
However, you need your questioning skills when:
We previously identified “active listening” as a necessary skill in customer-focused selling. Asking the right questions is critical to this process, which means you need preparation time to consider the most effective style of questions for the situation.
There are two types of questions to use.
It is essential to ask questions and clarify your understanding of your customer’s statements, as well as to collect extra information from them so you can expand on the conversation. Strike a balance by asking a mix of open-ended and closed questions.
Here are some examples of good probing questions to ask in a sales conversation:
To make your questioning effective, you will want to avoid an approach that could be interpreted as an interrogation. At the same time, you should massage the questioning delivery, so you do not sound like a robot.
Usually, in the conversation, you try to get to the bottom of the customer’s pain points so you can help them achieve their expectations.
You must be sensitive during this process and ask questions designed to fit their specific situation.
Start with questions that allow the customer to feel comfortable before moving on to the more focused, deep-dive questions designed to reveal more important information.
You can ask the same question differently for a different response. For example:
When you want to close the sale and need a clear answer, closed questions are helpful, e.g., “are you ready to go ahead?” or “If that answers all of your questions, shall we agree on a price?”
Excellent questioning skills are a crucial component of selling as it helps you to better understand your customer’s needs and desires. The information you glean can help you tailor your sales pitch to their specific wants and needs. Additionally, your questions can show the customer that you are interested in them as an individual and not just trying to make a sale. Finally, questions are useful in helping to build rapport and trust between you and the customer.
Developing your ability to question and listen, will hone your selling skills and help you take your business to the next level.
Other articles in this series:
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