In continuing with our focus on increasing sales in franchise organizations at all levels, we will build upon the last two days’ articles about sales prospecting and presentations, and today discuss sales questions specific to a B2B situation, but can be easily revised for any sales situation.
B2B Sales: Questions Are Your Greatest Tool
Prepare, in advance, the questions you’ll ask when you actually get face to face with your prospect. Of course, every selling situation is unique and every selling situation requires some variation, but certain basic questions that come up in every interview can be planned in advance.
By carefully planning them, you can make sure you cover all of your bases and that your wording is precise. There is one caution – be careful not to phrase them so they sound canned.
Ask As Many Open-Ended Questions As Possible
Closed questions that call for a “yes” or “no” answer tend to discourage people from talking, to give only limited information, and they tend to set a negative tone. During the Probe (the questioning) step of most selling systems, ask primarily open-ended questions that require prospects to tell you how they feel, what they want, or what they think. There is room for “yes” or “no” questions, but be careful not to use too many or to use them incorrectly.
Ask Needs-Based Questions
In the Probe step you want to do more than get your prospect to talk; you want to find out what he or she needs. Therefore, frame questions that will give you insights into how prospects perceive their needs.
Ask Questions That Help You Identify Problems That Need To Be Solved
Usually there’s one overriding problem that needs to be resolved in the prospect’s mind – a situation you can understand by asking the right questions. Plus, with proper pre-call planning and strong internal advocacy, you should already know what those problems are.
Ask Questions That Help You Pinpoint The Dominant Buying Motivations
Buying motivations and needs are not always the same. Buying motivations have to do with desires, feelings, tastes and so on.
Avoid Offensive Questions or Asking Questions In An Insensitive Way
Certain types of questions can offend prospects and cause them to back away from you. Here are some examples of pitfalls to avoid:
Don’t use leading or “set up” questions such as “You do want to make a profit, don’t you?” What’s the prospect going to say…”No, I don’t?!”
Probe, don’t pry. Nosy questions can be a real turnoff.
Be careful about phrasing. For example, instead of asking “How much can you afford to spend?” you could phrase it a little more positively: “How much had you planned to invest?”
Ask Questions That Are Easy To Answer
Questions that require knowledge the prospect doesn’t have can often make him or her feel stupid. For example, asking most consumers, “What’s the maximum wattage per channel on your amplifier?” might get you a dumb look for an answer. The smarter you make your prospects feel, the smarter they’ll think you are and the more they’ll like you.
Use Questions To Guide The Interview & Keep The Tone Positive
Some people love to ramble on and on, but by skillfully using questions you can keep the interview focused and moving in the right direction. Also, ask questions to which people can easily respond in a positive manner. Studies have shown that most people much prefer to agree than to assert themselves and disagree. In other words…make it easy to say “yes.”
Ask – and Then Listen
The prospect can’t talk while you’re talking. Besides, you can’t learn while you’re talking. Don’t just get quiet and think up something to say next. Instead, listen to every word that prospect says and analyze the words, tones and the gestures. Remember, you can talk people into buying, but you can also listen them into it.