If you've heard me speak for more than five minutes you've heard me say...
Whoever is asking the questions is in control of the conversation."
If you've seen any of my presentations on growing your sales you've seen the slide
The sales pro is in charge of structure, the prospect is in charge of content."
(And you've also heard me repeat them both throughout the presentation because repetition really is the key to learning when you're developing effective sales skills.)
The point of both is to set in stone the concept that your role as a professional salesperson today is not to be the smartest in the room or to be able to handle and overcome any and every objection, nor is it to be the hardcore closer, believe it or not. (I'll address the #1 role of a salesperson in another note.)
Great salespeople follow the New ABCs of Selling, which includes Always Be Curious. (I have several more...which I'll cover in another note.)
This ties in nicely with #4 of the 7 Deadly Sins of Selling, which is "Assumption Malfunction."
Rookie salespeople make assumptions, which leaves them chasing their tails and hoping things will work out.
Sales professionals stand their ground and do not leave an appointment or end a phone call until the most important questions are answered.
What are the most important questions, Wes?"
I'm glad you asked.
The important questions depend on the customer.
You need to not only find out what's important to them, but you also have to help them discover what's truly important to them.
Then you have to get them to say it out loud, and you have to get them to quantify it, i.e. put a dollar value on what is important to them.
Then—and only then—will you be in a position to bring the conversation to an easy and natural conclusion: they buy from you.
If all you do is push your latest widget, or last year's widget at a discount (because you have a few left in inventory), if the prospect does not feel as though they have been heard, they'll feel like they're being sold and will either leave or drive an even harder bargain, neither of which is fun, prosperous, or scalable.
The Sales Doctor Will See You Now
When you approach your prospects like a doctor with the goal of first diagnosing before prescribing, that's when things get fun, easy, and profitable.
Think about it.
If you can use WebMD to describe your symptoms and determine the cause, won't you just call your doctor, speak to her PA, and ask her to phone in a prescription, or just look up a home remedy and treat yourself?
It's when you can't find the answers to your questions that you seek professional medical assistance.
The same is true with your prospects.
When they have all the answers, they don't need you and me.
Even worse is when they think they have all the answers, then show up just to beat you up for a lower price.
THAT'S when you better have the ability to ask them questions they not only can't answer but haven't even thought of if you want to slow them down in their efforts to steamroll you.
Remember that when they show up as a "professor" with all of their research but they haven't yet purchased from your competition...there's a reason.
Something is lacking.
They are looking for something...else, which is why they are still shopping.
That's where you step in as your "Always Be Curious" self and ask
- "I see you've done a lot of research. What is lacking in what you've discovered so far that has prevented you from ordering?" or
- "I see that you've gathered a lot of information. Have you had time to go through it all or were you looking for some professional assistance to cut through the hype?" or
- "Now that you've done a great deal of research / As you begin diving into your research...what would you say are your top three non-negotiable criteria you are looking for to make you confident you've made the right choice?"
FAQs & SAQs
What you need to do in this process is move beyond the Frequently Asked Questions and into the Should Ask Questions.
These are the questions your customers don't even know they don't know...but you know them because you're the expert. You know what SHOULD be asked in order to make the best decision.
The Should Ask Questions are those questions that you think of as soon as you hang up the phone or as soon as you get back in your car to go home after losing the sale.
So think of those now, before you're under the gun and the pressure is on. Write them down. Heck, make videos out of them like this.
Then watch how much easier you'll begin making sales.
We ask a lot of hard questions to help you grow here.
Market like you mean it.
Now go sell something.