Category Archives: empathy
In Part I of this series, I focused on the strategy of questioning skills — the “what” to ask. In Part II, we’ll move on to the best way of asking sales questions — the “how.” The elements involve proper empathy, pacing, and back-and-forth dialogue.
The objective is to have a two-way dialogue with the client so that the meeting doesn’t feel like an interrogation. The skills for achieving this include acknowledging, little nods, and paraphrasing back — “If I hear right, Mr. Client, what you’re saying is …” You become an active listener, being there in the moment instead of thinking about your next question or your next meeting. You demonstrate empathy.
I’ll share a true example of how not to do it. This comes from the time of the global financial crisis when a salesperson meeting with a client began the conversation by asking, “How’s business?” He said it more as a throwaway ice breaker as he was getting himself settled. The client was an entrepreneur who had grown the business to several hundred employees, including family members. The client responded, “To be honest, this has been the toughest of my 20-plus years in business. I nearly lost everything. I couldn’t even sleep at night, thinking about the impact losing the business would have on my family and employees.”
How did the salesperson respond? He said, “Oh OK, so what I wanted to talk to you about today » Continue Reading.
Great Questioning Skills Have Two Components: Part I – The Strategy
There are two essential components to questioning skills in a sales environment. The first involves strategy — the “what” to ask. The second is about the “how” of asking questions. The art of getting better at both begins with preparation.
This post will focus on the strategy of questioning skills. Part II will cover the skills involved in how to ask questions with proper empathy, pacing, and back-and-forth dialogue.
The first element in establishing an effective questioning strategy is to identify what you want to learn from the client. This means establishing clear objectives but not just those related to what you want to get out of the meeting. Think about what it is that you want to leave behind. This doesn’t mean a brochure or other information but, more importantly, what is the perception that you want to leave behind.
As for type of questions, at Richardson we often refer to the concept of a questioning funnel. At the top are big, overarching questions — such as the client’s goals and objectives — moving down to more granular questions about implementation and decision criteria.
Often, salespeople find it hard to start with big questions. They think too broad: “Tell me about the business and what you want to achieve.” If they have an existing relationship with the client, they usually start with what’s currently going on » Continue Reading.