At some point, every courtship reaches a pivotal moment. All that investment in getting to know one another boils down to one question: Are you ready to commit?
Some people move too quickly and are rejected. Others move too slowly and are left surprised when the other person moves on. Business relationships are no different, which is why the best sales professionals master the art of conversation to engage decision-makers.
By engage, I do not mean pitch. I mean, participate in a dialogue that helps to unearth issues you can help resolve; dialogue that uncovers the different solutions to a business problem the decision maker may be mulling over, and ultimately aiming to land a deal. To do that, you don’t need to know all the answers, but you do need to know how to ask quality questions.
There are three types of questions that every sales professional should be adept at asking. Grasping each is important and understanding the timing in asking each type of question is equally important.
Questions to get people talking
These objective, open-ended questions get at the what, why or how. They are designed to glean your prospect’s view of their current situation and to show your interest in helping them.
Common examples of open-ended questions include:
- What will happen if you don’t achieve your business goals?
- How well is that working?
- Why do you think the situation hasn’t gotten better?
Expand the conversation
At some point, you want to explore what’s been said in more detail. To do that, you’ll need to probe. When done well, you not only go beyond surface information to gain a deeper understanding of an issue, but prospects may come to realize another problem exists.
Though specific probing questions depend on what has been said up to this point, here are a few examples of probing questions to ask at the appropriate time:
- How exactly are decisions made at your company?
- Can anyone override that decision?
- Is there a limit to your purchase authority?
Make sure you heard that right
It’s important that you leave a conversation with a firm and accurate understanding of someone’s current situation. To do that, you must ask confirming questions that validate the information being shared. Not only does this avoid future misunderstandings, but it also demonstrates how closely you listened to them – a validation that can go a long way.
To leave that good impression, be sure to ask confirming questions such as the following:
- In order to get this done, it sounds like ____ has to happen.
- It seems like we have to work together to convince _____…
- When can we meet with ______?
All these suggestions sound like common sense, but it takes an earnest effort at developing excellent communications skills to attain high levels of consistent engagement. Keep the conversation focused on the prospect’s concerns, and you should find that person comes to love your offer. That’s when you pop the question that elicits an enthusiastic, “Yes!”
Sell with Value!