Asking the wrong questions can stop your sales pitch dead in its tracks. Fortunately, sales champion Phil M Jones can show you how to avoid the most common mistakes
People are engaging in conversations aimed at winning business and creating commercial success almost every day in this country. The key to a great conversation is asking outstanding questions that can help build relationships, create opportunities and often lead to sales. The trouble is that many of the people asking them are failing to achieve their potential by making a handful of easily rectifiable mistakes. Most of these mishaps boil down to one thing: people ask the right questions but in the wrong way.
The best salespeople are the ones prepared to ask powerful and strategic questions to uncover key information that will assist all parties in the decision-making process and empower prospects to make an informed move towards their preferred outcome.
We cannot decide in advance if somebody needs something before we've found out if there really is a true benefit. And the key to unlocking these facts is our ability to ask great questions.
Using the right words with the right people at the right time has the ability to drive predictable and powerful outcomes. Quite often the difference between achieving a desired outcome and not is knowing exactly what to say when and how to make it count.
If you want to ensure that your next sales conversation is a successful one, here are three questions you should never ask a prospect and three ideas of what to say instead.
Do you have any questions?
Sounds like a harmless question, right? Sure, if you’re looking for a yes or no answer. Yes or no answers are great if you’re in a court of law. They’re not so great if you want to further a conversation with a client or get a read on what they're thinking.
A better question would be to ask “what questions do you have?”
This will invite clients to think about the conversation and to respond if they have any questions or confidently say if they don’t have any questions, which in turn means that they’ve made a decision.
So what do you think?
Again, seems pretty safe. But this question relinquishes the control of the conversation to the buyer and reduces your authority as an expert. The subtle undertone in this question is an abdication of responsibility to assist the decision and potentially leaves the buyer with additional doubt over what the best decision is for them. It can be all too easy to leave the decision-making up to other people and hope that they’ll make the right choice but, without your help, often others make no decision at all and everyone loses out.
Instead of asking that question say “what happens next is...”
This choice of words allows the sales professional to link all the information together and identify next steps. It also gives the client comfort knowing that someone is in control, guiding them all the way to the finish line. You can end that question with "would you be comfortable with that?"
Would you be interested in…?
This question sounds off alarm bells in a prospect’s mind. Why? Because buyers don’t like to be sold to. As a result, they’ve become conditioned to say no even before they’ve heard the full question. In turn, a no will create a fear of rejection in salespeople. Instead, a better way of phrasing that question is to ask “I am not sure if it's for you but would you be open minded to…?”
Opening statements with the words “I’m not sure if it’s for you” causes the listener’s subconscious brain to hear “there’s no pressure here”. By suggesting that they may not be interested, you naturally increase their intrigue and, in turn, pique their interest.
And, of course, no one is going to say no to being open-minded.
Now, it's your turn
There are of course hundreds of scenarios in which you can evolve and improve the quality of your conversation. So start making more of your conversations count.
This article comes to you courtesy of Phil M Jones, author of Exactly What to Say – The Magic Words for Influence and Impact, who will personally be appearing person at this year’s MADE Festival.