Everybody who wants to be great at sales needs to master one skill: the art of listening.The better you become at listening, the more you sell.
But don't be the passive listener whom the prospect uses like a psychotherapist, babbling on about whatever he wants to get off his chest. Great salespeople actively direct the course of a conversation by asking astute questions.
This sounds great in theory—but try putting it into practice, and you'll see how hard it is. Prospects quickly become uncooperative, antagonistic or flat out tell you that they don't want to answer your questions.
Why do these prospects have to make your job so difficult? Why do they put up their defenses just because you ask them a couple of qualifying questions? I've got good news for you: It's not your prospects that suck ... it's your questioning technique.
Fortunately, you can hone this skill.
These are the most common mistakes I see sales reps commit when asking qualifying questions:
There are many ways to improve your questioning techniques, but to become really great at asking questions, you need to shift into a different mental gear.
When you bring a genuine sense of curiosity, a real interest to the table, and truly care about providing value to them, it will affect the way you're leading the conversation with your questions.
It'll change the way you ask questions, and the prospect will be more cooperative and provide you with the answers you need to move the sale forward.
Don't just interpret your prospect's answers. The less you base your understanding on assumptions, and the more detailed responses you elicit, the better in sync the prospect will be with you.
Here's an example.
Prospect: "Ease of use is really important for us."
Bad sales rep: (assumes: oh, they want a slick user interface and easy onboarding) "Oh great, our software is really easy to use!"
Great sales rep: "Ok, what precisely do you mean when you say ease of use? What about the experience needs to be easy? The initial setup and deployment in your organization? Or the usability for the end-user who'll work with it daily? Do you have an example of an application you're working with now that is easy to use? This would help me to precisely understand what you're looking for when you're thinking about ease of use."
So when a prospect gives you an answer, ask follow-up questions that go deep, that explore things in more detail. This will a) help you gain a better understanding of the prospect's wants and needs and b) show the prospect that you care and are truly listening to him.
Just by doing that, you'll stand out from 90% of all the other sales reps from competing vendors. If a prospect feels truly understood by you, they'll trust you and feel better about you and your product.
These questions aren't rocket science, they're pretty straight-forward.
Let's say a prospect tells you that five people will be using your software. Rather than just taking note of it and moving to the next question, you can ask further questions:
The exact questions you ask, of course, depend on the specifics of your product and their organization.
Just use what you learned here about asking questions in sales to improve your next sales calls. Record them and listen to how you're asking questions.
Our sales CRM makes it easy to record your calls automatically and play them back as MP3 anytime you want. Studying your own sales questioning approach this way can help you to quickly take your sales game to the next level.
Receive actionable sales advice straight to your inbox weekly.