Distinctive Thinking

on Business Success – Articles, tips, and Q&A’s

Questions and Sales

Posted by bizcoachjason on April 30, 2008

This article is especially significant for professionals
that depend on networking, referrals and word
of mouth advertising for their livelihood, but it also
applies to corporate leaders, as we all need
basic selling skills and a well established network
inside and outside our organization for critical support.

Whenever you try to convince
someone of something, you’re selling.

So let’s talk about questions and sales.

One of the most powerful things you can do in
your business is to ask a lot of great questions.
As we mentioned in the last article, this will
empower employees, foster growth, increase the
quality of decision making, improve relationships
and take you as well as your team to a new level
of effectiveness.

What it will also do for those that are charged
with sales, is well… charge your sales.  And for
those of you not in a pure “sales” role, keep in
mind that all of us sell ideas, concepts and other
intangible things every day, both personally and

For a long time, salespeople were seen as
“talking heads”
just presenting information on
their product or service.  The faster they could
talk and the more information they could spit out,
the better their chances of closing the deal.  This
worked well until buyers picked up on the
strategy, and “fast-talking salesmen” became a
catch phrase for salespeople that no one wanted
to do business with.

Then came “consultative selling.”

This method integrated probing questions to
identify the prospect’s needs.  It included
questions like: How long do you have before you
need to upgrade?  What is your biggest concern
about your current supplier?  What would you
primarily use this system for?

It seems pretty straightforward.  Ask questions
then do a sales presentation of the solution you
offer that best meets the needs of the customer.

But today’s consumers are smarter, more
familiar with different options, and have access
to much more information.

And people don’t want to be ‘sold to’ any

Instead, they want to be empowered to make a
buying decision that will be in their own best
interest.  And who can blame them?

“Coaching the sale” or “coaching the client” to
make the best decision possible for them is the
next phase.  Actually, it’s really a paradigm shift,
because your highest priority with this process is
to be of service to a prospect, not to close the
deal. Sound confusing?

Let me explain…

There are two forces at work. Consumers have
grown weary of sales professionals, and more
importantly, they don’t buy based on needs
any more.  People buy based on their wants.

Don’t believe me?

How many of us eat fast food?  Why do people
smoke or drink?  Don’t most of us know that
driving our cars is ruining the planet? Yeah…
I know, I’m guilty too.  And we try to change
because we know these are bad, but…

With so many choices, we still generally do
what we want
, even if it’s not what we need.

How do we find out customers’ wants?

By asking probing questions to uncover those
wants and digging deep to find out the reasons
behind them: their motivations, fears, and even

People don’t often answer a question directly the
first time because their REAL wants are very
personal.  We don’t like to reveal ourselves to
people that we don’t know, let alone someone
that probably has an agenda to sell us
something. This brings us to another important
point that you’ve probably heard before:

People buy from those that they know, like
and trust.

So how can you get someone to know, like and
trust you?  Become a trusted advisor.  An
advisor asks a lot of questions and uses those
questions to learn more about the other person.

Identify what they want, what they believe in and
what they are seeking.  Then think about what
you can provide – resources, connections,
ideas, support, or one of the products you offer if
there is a genuine fit.  As someone that cares
about them and wants them to succeed, you’ll
be helping them out tremendously.

Here are a few good questions to ask potential
clients and networking partners as you get to
know them:
 ·  What could be the best outcome for you?
 ·  What would make you really happy in this
 ·  What do you want to accomplish here?
 ·  Why is that important to you?
 ·  What would it really mean to you personally?

These may sound like very similar questions but
many times it’s by asking closely related
questions in different ways that get you to the
REAL answer.

So, as a sales person, you need to ask
questions to find out what your prospects
really want
.  How else can you help them
create the best outcome?

And even when you don’t close the sale, you
will gain a reputation for helping others beyond
doing what’s in it for you.  As a result, your
networks will grow and as well as your

People will want to work with you and buy
from you when there’s a good fit.  And they will
want to tell others about you as well.

So let me ask you…

What would happen if you asked more questions
to potential customers?  How would it increase
your effectiveness and get more people to like
and trust you?

Give them more opportunities to talk and
yourself more opportunities to listen.  You will
learn more and be more successful for it.

All the best,


2 Responses to “Questions and Sales”

  1. Good Layout and design. I like your blog. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. .

    Jason Rakowski

  2. […] arulba wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptquestions like: How long do you have before you need to upgrade? What is your biggest concern about your current supplier? What would you primarily use this system for? It seems pretty straightforward. Ask questions … […]

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