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The Sales Buzz Issue 74 - Sales questions - How to ask them and close more sales
May 16, 2010

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Over the past couple of newsletters we have looked at some of the sales techniques that professional sales people use and develop from their experience.

This is sales training that you don’t learn on sales courses or from trainers that haven’t actually sold for a living. They are the small but important lines and phrases that top sellers add to their sales pitch.

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In this week’s Sales Buzz!

Sales Questions – How to ask the right ones

You go on a sales training course, or you read a selling skills book, and they tell you all about open questions, closed questions, alternative answer sales questions. And so many more that you forget their names and their definitions.

Then you add these sales questions to your sales pitch and the questioning sales stage has a bit more structure to it.

But are you asking the right questions in the right order and in the best way?

Learn a simple 3 step process that successful sales professionals use. Learn the secret to asking the right sales questions...

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Sales Questions – How to ask the right ones

The secret to asking the right sales questions is to know why you are asking them.

In a traditional sale you start with asales introduction.

This is where you give a brief introduction about you and what you can do for the sales prospect.

Then you move on to the sales questions stage. And what exactly is your reason for asking sales questions?

The first step is to...

Define what you want to know

Many sales courses will tell you how to structure your sales questioning stage of the sale.

They may even touch on why you are asking the questions.

But often sales people are not taught to have a clear definition of what it is they need to know to give them the best chance of closing the sale.

I coach sales people for a living and I see many that have only vague ideas of what they want from their sales questions.

Once we work on this sales stage their questions become effective and efficient and the sales stage becomes slick and smooth.

They close more sales because they keep the interest of the buyer with fewer questions, and the questions they do ask are focused on information that will lead to closing the deal.

Start at the end and work backwards

Start by writing a list of what you need to know, and think about why you need to know it.

What is the important information you need to know about your sales prospect?

Which is the need to know information and which is the nice to know?

Prioritise the list of information by order of importance to the closing of the sale. You might have details about the service they would like on your list, but if you cannot sell to them until their current contract is expired that will take priority.

A 3 Step process to Sales Questions

I know many people like a simple step by step guide that they can remember and follow, so here it is.

Step 1. Define why you are asking sales questions

Write a clear list of what you need to know from the questioning sales stage.

It may help if you think forward to your sales presentation and the information you will need to form it. Then write the questions that will give you that information.

Step 2. Prioritise your list of information

Start by putting your list of sales information into 2 columns.

1. The need to know information

2. The nice to know information

Now prioritise the information in each list. Think about what is the most important information that you need. This is things like: What could stop the sale now, and what could make the sale now.

Step 3. Link questions to your information lists

You now have a list of information that will help you close a sale and make best use of your time with a sales prospect.

Link a good sales question to each piece of information that you need. How will you ask the sales prospect for the details you need?

This is where most sales training courses start. This is where you now start thinking about the type of questions to use.

Open questions - To start off a conversation and see what is important to the customer.

Closed and Alternative questions - To give accurate detail and gain commitment from the buyer.

You can see more on structuring sales questions and using different types of questions at Sales Questioning Techniques.

This works with sales appointment calls as well

You can use the sales questions technique for your sales appointment calls as well. It is really effective at filtering out the sales prospects that you can sell to know and those that you should add to your longer term sales pipeline.

Again you start with a clear definition of what you need to know, not the questions you think you should ask.

Then prioritise the information you need. Think in terms of what you need to know and what would be nice to know.

Now you link good questions to each piece of information. Use the structure of open questions to gather information and alternative and closed to gather more detail.

This is just one technique from the workbook course I use with my sales teams on how to make sales appointments and fill your diary with sales opportunities.

For more about the workbook course open Cold calling sales appointments or click the image.

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The Sales Buzz

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Wishing you the very best with your sales career.

Stephen Craine

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