In an earlier post, I talked about the power gradient in a sales call. In short what I am referring to is who holds the power, who looks up to who, who needs who more, who is the one controlling the conversation?
When I talk to sales people I often get asked, “how do I know what question to ask next?”. I know from that question that this is an inexperienced sales person who is more concerned about asking a great question than listening to what is being said by the prospect sitting in front of them.
When you head into a sales appointment, it is vital that you are armed with a great series of questions to ask a prospect. I use a mind map image in my head that I refer to based on the key frustrations that I know my prospects have when running a business. I can see the map in my head and it assists me to refer to it. I used to actually carry the list of questions with me at the very start. The prospect had no idea what I was referring to and it made me look prepared and professional, it was actually a set of scripted questions!
I also know that as soon as you start getting questions fired at you, you start to lose control of the situation, you must be the one asking the questions. The best questions to answer are objections of course.
I start with questions to open people up, to get them talking and then I listen for clues to then set up the next series of questions, all the time focused on heading them down my path of a sale. I might start with – “so what got you into this business?”, “is the business ahead of where you thought you might be when you started it or are you behind?” and “what’s your role here?” and so on.
To explain the power of questions, I do an exercise in my sales workshops called the Jack of Hearts trick, where I write down on a piece of paper the Jack of Hearts and give this to someone in the front row. They keep this to themselves. I pick someone at random in the audience and ask them a series of questions based on the deck of playing cards. I end up getting them to say the Jack of Hearts and then reveal the piece of paper that I originally gave to the individual in the front row originally which of course matches their answer. This freaks people out – to me all I was doing was asking a series of questions that I knew the answers to and all I had to do was direct them down the path based on the right questions.
So, do you get the idea now? What are the questions you are asking to make the sale, to direct people in the right direction so they end up a client of yours? Questions are the answers.
— Si Harris