You've probably heard that being a good listener is the key to being successful in sales. While I agree that it's essential, I'm here to tell you that your ability to ask good sales questions is even more important.
From the first day I started selling, I was told that I should never, ever assume – that it would only lead to failure. Instead, I was supposed to be consultative, learning about a prospect's situation before I made any definitive recommendations or pronouncements.
Well, today things are different. To be effective in today's business environment, you need to assume. Why? Because it makes you sound like you know what's going on. Let me show you what I mean.
If you're tired of calling on people who really want to work with you, but can't seem to get anything approved, listen up! Spending one more day working with these really nice individuals is a total waste of your time - even though they love you and what you're selling. You'll never close deals that way.
If you want to get the business, you need to find those individuals in the company who are making things happen. CEB, a sales research group, calls these people the Mobilizers. They're the ones who spearhead new projects in their organization. They can see into the future and know that change is imperative for the company - and for them personally.
I’m sure your answer is a resounding “no.” But in reality, it’s not what you think that counts. Only your prospect’s perceptions matter—and they can be very different from what you’d imagine.
Why? Because they’re extremely busy. Every time they talk with you, read your emails or meet with you, they’re asking, questions like:
- “Is this person a credible resource?
- “Does he/she bring a depth of expertise?
- “Is this worth my time to continue the conversation?”
So let’s take a look at one scenario to see how your best intentions might be totally misinterpreted.
Asking good sales questions is pivotal to your sales success. But, that's not what I'm here to talk about today. Instead, we're going to focus on what happens AFTER you ask these questions.
And, it's no secret that you need to be a good listener. To most people, that's a big duh!
But here's the deal. After asking a sales question, if the prospect hasn't responded in 2-3 seconds, the average seller jumps in to fill the silence.
Find out how strategically planning for a sales meeting helped Heather land her company's largest contract.
Heather*, CEO of a small training company, couldn’t believe her luck. Through a referral, she’d secured a meeting with a senior Pentagon leader to talk about her new management development program.
Waiting nervously in the lobby, she felt a bit out of place in her trendy outfit and edgy hairdo. When her name was called, she jumped up. Standing by the door to the hallowed halls was the General, who warmly greeted her. Several feet behind him stood his two aides de camp.
“Card,” the General barked. One stepped forward, handed him his business card and promptly resumed his original position. He handed it to Heather. Reciprocating, she fumbled in her purse till she found one, and then gave it to him.
Katie was excited. She'd just received a promotion. And, for the very first time ever, she was asked to do a presentation to a client who was in for an all day meeting on Monday.
She'd be doing her part right up front. 10 minutes. That's all she had on the schedule. But she wanted to make a good impression - on both her colleagues and the client.
What if you were at risk of losing your best customer?
It’s time to get your thinking cap out again. I’m here to stretch you out of your comfort zone so you can see things in new ways. Today we’re going to look at your very best customer – the one you love working with and who contributes a fair share to your income. Got it?
Good, because now I want you to put yourself in your competitor’s shoes. You want this account really badly. And you know whose currently got the business.
So as you sit now, in your competitor’s shoes, here’s some questions I want you to think about:
I want you to think about all those prospects you’re planning to close this month. Pretty confident that you’ll get their business?
Well, I’ve got news for you. Research shows that 60% of the people you’re expecting to close – won’t. And they’re not going to your competitors either. They’re sitting there, mulling it over and asking themselves …. Does it really make sense to change?