Silence from a buyer puts undo pressure on salespeople. Getting the buyer to talk is critical. Getting them to share relevant information is even more important. Like a journalist, your job is to get the story. You're seeking to learn from the buyer what they want to accomplish. However, the information you receive is typically only as good as the questions you ask.
Here are six great open-ended starters to help you build an arsenal of good questions to get the buyer talking:
1. Vision--"What do you see..."
Vision questions are big picture by design. They provide you feedback on the buyer's perceptions about the issue(s) they wish to address.
- Example: What do you see when you compare your service offerings with your competition?
2. Source--"Where is... "
Source questions narrow the conversation to the issue(s) they want to address.
- Example: Where is the biggest potential area to improve performance?
3. Cause--"Why is/are..."
Cause questions uncover the reason why they have the problem in the first place. In many cases, they may not know, but your question opens the dialog to find out.
- Example: Why do you think the inside sales team numbers are down from last year?
4. Effect--"How has..."
Effect questions show the positive or negative impact on the organization or individual. This is one of the most critical categories of questions; because this is where you will discover the tangible value you can offer.
- Example: How has this impacted your bottom line?
4. People--"Who is/are..."
People questions identify and personalize the issue: from employees, to leaders, to competitors, to suppliers. Knowing the people that influence or are affected by business decisions better informs you about which solution to offer.
- Example: Who is your fastest emerging competitor?
6. Solution--"What is..."
The solution question is not designed to reduce your status as an expert. Instead, it helps the buyer articulate their idea of a resolution.
- Example: What is your ideal outcome for this project?
Using these question starters focuses your attention on acquiring specific information to guide your development of a value-laden solution. It also gets your potential customer talking about their perceptions and experiences related to the issues they want addressed.
Prepare your questions using these starters and you'll experience richer, more robust, and more rewarding sales calls.
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