Viewing Posts for: Karen Klein
What are Some of the Best Open-ended Questions for Winning Sales?
There is no magic wand to reveal the five best open-ended questions to ask for all sales situations. That’s the bad news. The good news is, there are several ingredients that will make asking five great questions easier. Here is the recipe for success:
Remember the old joke, “Where does an 800-lb. gorilla sit? Anywhere it wants to.” Don’t be that gorilla, starting the questioning dialogue with the questions YOU want answered. Start the sales dialogue by asking about the client’s short-term objectives and needs. This approach allows clients to take the conversation where they want, so they can share what is top-of-mind for them, what keeps them up at night, and what is most important to them in the near future. Even though you control the conversation by the questions that you ask, let the clients control which areas they want to direct the conversation.
Here are some sample questions to consider and adapt, as appropriate:
“In speaking with your senior account manager, he mentioned three key drivers: X, Y, and Z. What specifically are your key objectives related to these drivers?” (This question leverages your preparation so that the question doesn’t feel too basic or unprepared.) “What are you trying to accomplish in the next six months?” “What is most important to you in your business right now?” “What has prompted the shift in strategy » Continue Reading.
Probing questions are at the heart of an effective, consultative selling approach
Being able to win opportunities is what separates a great sales professional from a good one — those who excel, understand the structure of sales meetings, and stay in control. Great sales professionals know where they are going with their questioning strategy and what they want to accomplish at every point in the dialogue. They hone their focus on probing, learning, and fully comprehending the client’s needs before ever talking about their own product. In my last blog post, I focused on tips that will help with open-ended questions, today, I will look at probing questions.
Probing questions are at the heart of an effective, consultative selling approach — one that is all about the client, not how much the sales professional knows or the great products to be offered.
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”
― Theodore Roosevelt
At the start of a client relationship, you should show interest in the other person’s world, which may include work and family responsibilities, hobbies, sports, or career development. Let the client take the lead, and then use probing questions to explore what the client has just said and to demonstrate your level of interest and caring.
Probing questions are a great way to demonstrate to your clients that you are listening and picking up on key “neon words” » Continue Reading.
Open-ended Sales Questions Allow Sales Professionals to Learn More than Just the Obvious
When you ask yes-or-no questions during sales calls, you get yes-or-no answers, which either confirm or deny whatever you had posited. When you become more strategic about asking questions, you can often discover important, underlying, and previously unknown issues that matter to the success of prospects and clients.
There’s a skill to asking the right questions at the right time. At Richardson, we include Questioning as one of our Six Critical Skills for sales, and we define it as the ability to explore needs and create dialogue. Open-ended questions allow sales professionals to learn more than just the obvious, observable things. As a result, sales professionals are better able to be more consultative and position the best products and services to meet client needs, while demonstrating understanding and caring in helping clients achieve their goals and objectives.
These five tips will help you get beyond the usual questioning strategy to discover what’s really on the minds of your clients:
It’s OK to leave your agenda behind. In fact, we encourage it. Going into meetings without preconceived ideas frees you to focus on what is important to clients. You can more easily step into their world, identify their needs and objectives, understand their worries and challenges, and align your offerings with their strategies. Don’t focus most of your sales dialogue on open-ended questions related to your » Continue Reading.
What’s your Questioning Strategy?
Asking to be a strategic advisor to your client usually never happens. But, having the right questioning strategy can build the credibility required to become one.
The questions that you ask and the way that you ask them can define how you operate and how you are perceived by clients.
Do you ask the questions that get you paid? These questions are your bread and butter; they’re part of your comfort zone. These questions allow you to position your solution and the need for your product or service. These are what we call “current situation questions” — questions that probe how the client is currently operating, his/her level of satisfaction with the operations, and facts about how he/she does business.
All good questions, but they’re the wrong places to start.
The best first questions are strategic ones that explore the client’s main objectives. What is he/she trying to accomplish? What are his/her key priorities and objectives? Why did he/she decide to change from X strategy to Y?
Why should we ask these questions first? Because we don’t want to focus on our agenda; we want to focus on the client’s. At this point, we want the client to talk about what is most important to him/her. We want the client to take the conversation — and us — where he/she wants it to go, not where we want it to go.
Some people think that asking too many » Continue Reading.
Why Sales Objections Can be Opportunities
As sales professionals, we are quite familiar with sales objections. We hear them on a daily basis, and sometimes, several times a day. We can hear them at any part of the sales process: when we open, when we discuss our solution, or when we close the deal.
The ability to resolve these sales objections is crucial for a number of reasons:
It enables you to maintain and strengthen your client relationships. It helps you move your sales cycle forward in a non-confrontational way. It helps ensure that conversations remain positive, focused, and consultative. It gives you confidence to address tough conversations. When dealing with price objections, it ensures that you don’t discount too early or leave money on the table.
Sales objections are most often thought of as roadblocks in the sales process, carrying negative connotations. In reality, sales objections represent an opportunity — the client is willing to share objections, which gives you the chance to address them and move the sale forward.
It’s important that you don’t make assumptions about the objection and instead ask the client to elaborate. This demonstrates your interest in learning more, while giving you extra time to think. It also confirms that you’re dealing with the right objection, as most times, the objection you first hear can be a smokescreen. I call this the Matryoshka effect, like the Russian nesting dolls: inside » Continue Reading.
Three Missteps in Sales Coaching
A sales manager’s most important job is coaching. An effective sales coach can accelerate learning, change behavior, and boost the performance of both individuals and the entire sales team.
The sales coaching process we use at Richardson is both simple and effective. When followed, the results are clear. The problem is, sales coaching only works if managers do it properly.
These are three common missteps we see in sales coaching:
Telling vs. asking
The key to effective sales coaching can be captured in three words: they talk first.
Our coaching model is all about asking specific, neutral, open-ended questions — and then, drilling down further with more questions.
Coaching by asking allows coaches to learn about their sales teams and the situations that they face. It builds commitment and buy-in and helps sales professionals take responsibility for their own learning.
There are times when coaching by telling is appropriate, such as an urgent situation in which there is no time to do anything but quickly tell and when moving toward disciplinary action. But, this is always the exception, never the rule.
Directing vs. collaborating
If coaches remember to ask instead of tell, they often do not ask enough questions. They might start with, “What are your thoughts?” or, “How do you feel the call went?” but tend to slowly put on their manager hats and start formulating solutions and giving their opinions. In » Continue Reading.