A study published a few years ago identified the top five behavioral characteristics of the superstar sales people. Number two on the list was this: They ask better questions. Amazing. Of all the possibilities for ways that the superstars differ from average sales people, who would have guessed that they excel at this fundamental communication skill? Everyone can ask questions, but they ask better questions.
This competency is composed of two fundamental parts: 1) Preparing better sales questions, and 2) Implementing them with excellence. In Best Practice #34, I discussed the first part of this: Preparing better sales questions. This Best Practice speaks to the second part – excellent implementation.
In the hands of a superstar sales person, a better sales question is clearly the most powerful sales tool at his disposal. He/she uses it to show interest in the customer, to facilitate relationships and rapport, to uncover opportunities, to uncover hidden motivations and agendas, to gain feedback on solutions offered, to unveil concerns, and gain agreement on the next step and close the sale.
From the very beginning, the first “Hello”, to the very end, “How satisfied are you with your purchase,” questions are the infrastructure upon which the sales process proceeds.
To begin to move toward excellence in this best practice, focus on these issues:
1. Create an atmosphere that is conducive to the honest and comfortable exchange of information.
2. Ask your questions in the correct sequence. Think through the questions you want to ask, and arrange them in the sequence that makes it easiest to answer, and provides you the information you need.
3. Respond to your customers’ answers positively. Every answer provided by a customer should be immediately rewarded with a positive response from you. This indicates that you are listening and focusing on the customer.
This competency of asking better questions is so important that you should spend the rest of your career becoming better at it. As the study indicated, it is one of the most fundamental of all skills that separate the best from the rest.
As you become a master of this most powerful selling tool, you’ll naturally experience the rewards of better customer relationships, greater knowledge of the customer’s situation, greater confidence and competence on your part.
You’ll be on your way to becoming a superstar sales person. If you want to become a superstar sales person, do what the best do. And this is one of the key best practices of the best sales people.
If you are a subscriber to The Sales Resource Center, consider Cluster CL-14, “Asking Better Sales Questions” or Pod # Pod-5, “Mastering Your Most Powerful Sales Tool.”