Reilly Sales Training’s internal research shows the best salespeople are also the best listeners. They spend more time listening on sales calls than talking. They have a genuine interest in understanding their customers.
Top-achievers ask the right questions which puts the focus on the customer. The right questions give the customer the opportunity to speak, giving top-achievers the opportunity to listen.
Here are great questions to uncover your customers’ needs and generate discussion.
Tell me about your customers and what they expect from your company.
Most companies buy your products and services to serve their customers better. This question helps you understand your customers’ customers. Most of what your customers do is to serve their customers. This question helps you understand the driving forces behind their decisions.
Tell me about your competition.
How is your customer positioned in the marketplace? Are they a value-added organization or the low-cost provider? Asking this question gives you an understanding of how they compete. This question ultimately helps you help the customer be more competitive in their industry.
What do you expect from us?
Customer expectations are the true benchmark of satisfaction. Value-added organizations aim to exceed their customers’ expectations, but you cannot exceed expectations until you know what they are. From the very beginning, understand what your customers expect from your solution.
How are you currently meeting your needs?
This a logical but underutilized question. Salespeople assume they understand how a buyer is solving their problems or satisfying their needs. This question reveals your competition for the business. Your competition could be another supplier, provider, or the status quo. For your solution to stand out from the competition, you have to know your competition.
What do you like and dislike about your current solution?
This question lets you know how satisfied the buyer is with their current solution. Some salespeople argue that you shouldn’t ask what they like about their current solution. The customer stating what they like reinforces the buying decision. However, buyers are more likely to tell you what they dislike if you give them the opportunity to tell you what they like.
If you were going into our business tomorrow, what would you offer customers that nobody is offering?
This question allows the buyer to dream. Their answer reveals what is missing. This could be a point of differentiation for your solution. When the buyer answers this question, they are fundamentally telling you they are not completely satisfied with their current solution. They are also revealing your window of opportunity.
If we could provide you with the ideal solution, how would it impact your business?
The answer to this question reveals the downline impact of your solution. The buyer is telling you what they stand to gain. When the buyer answers this question, they are restating the value proposition to you. By answering this question, the buyer experiences an “ah-ha” moment. They discover that your solution will help them achieve their goals or solve a problem.
Bonus question: What do you give your customers the opportunity to do tomorrow they cannot do today?
This powerful sales question isn’t answered by the customer, it’s answered by you. To help you prepare for your next sales presentation, ask yourself this question. The answer to this question is why the customer should choose your alternative.
Questions give us the opportunity to listen and reveal our customers’ needs. These are great questions to get the conversation started with the customer. When you ask the customer the right questions, self-discovery will compel the buyer to act. Remember, those who listen are more persuasive than those who talk.
Paul Reilly is president of Reilly Sales Training. a St. Louis-based, privately-owned company that specializes in training sales professionals, sales managers, and service professionals. Reilly Sales Training offers public seminars, in-house sales training programs, and hiring and training assessments. For additional information on training programs, call or e-mail Paul at 636-778-0175 or Paul@ReillySalesTraining.com. You can also visit www.ReillySalesTraining.com and sign up for his free newsletter.