Community Futures Meridian

Box 2167, 125 - 1st Avenue East, Kindersley, SK - Phone: (306) 463-1850

Questioning Your Way to Better Sales

  • September 6, 2016
  • Written by Meridian Admin

There’s an old proverb that says, “We were given two ears and one mouth so that we could listen twice as much as we speak.” Unfortunately, when we start selling our product or service, we are tempted to speak twice as much as we listen. We feel the need to convince our customers how great our product is before they have a chance to say no, so we try to get out as many words as possible during our sales presentation. Ironically, often the best way to get people to listen to what we have to say, is to first listen to them.

Asking questions is an art. Our first contact with a potential customer is like a blank canvas. If you begin splashing paint on that canvas before you know what kind of art the customer likes, you’re likely to miss the mark. If, however, you allow your customer to begin the painting process, you’ll see what colours and shapes they prefer, what style of art they like, and where the piece is likely to end up. Taking that information and filling in the blank spaces is more likely to have the customer stand back and say, “Gee, I like that.”

The key to good questioning is to learn to ask probing questions and to use them to develop a comfortable presentation style. It takes practice to refrain from babbling and to apply active listening into your sales presentation, but do so and you’ll notice the results!

Here are four tips to asking probing questions that will help you to improve your closing rate.

Be Prepared to Listen to the Answers

You can ask all the questions you want, but if you’re not really listening to the answers your efforts are futile. Make eye contact, take notes and show your customer you’re interested in their comments and concerns. Learn to take notes while still looking at the prospect – it’s a highly valuable skill.

Avoid Dead End Questions

Never ask a question that can be answered with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. Given the choice, most people will answer ‘no’ so they can avoid your attempts to sell them something. Instead, ask questions that lead to a greater response. Reframe your questions so that your customers have to answer with an explanation. For example, in a retail setting don’t ask, “Can I help you?” ask, “How can I help you today?”

Use Agreement Questioning

This is a difficult technique to use but if you can master it your sales will increase. The tough part about this technique is to use it without making it sound stilted, phony or condescending. Agreement questioning examples include:

· “Would you agree that you’re looking for quality in this purchase?”

· “We could all use a little more time couldn’t we?”

· “It sure is difficult to get everything done in a day isn’t it?”

Studies have shown that the more often you can get a customer to agree with you on a point of interest during your presentation, the more likely they are to buy.

Always Provide Options

Providing options to customers is more likely to open up negotiation. For instance, rather than saying, “Can you put down a ten percent deposit?” say, “Would you prefer to put down ten, or fifteen percent.” Giving options encourages prospects to consider their choices, rather than perhaps just saying no; it also gives them a level of control. This type of question is called a trial close and is an important step in the sales process.

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Using these questioning techniques will not only boost your sales, but they’ll also help you with your overall business strategy. You want more than just the sale – you want to build customer loyalty, and the best way to do that is to let your customers know that you care about what matters to them. What better way to do that than to ask questions . . . wouldn’t you agree?