Category Archives: questioning

March 23rd, 2016

“What Keeps You Up at Night” and Other Pitfalls When Asking Open Ended Questions

asking open-ended questions

There is one question that comes up in virtually every Richardson sales training session that I have conducted over the past 23 years. It is part of an activity in which teams practice coming up with and asking open-ended questions to buyers. This is the question that participants love to ask buyers — “What keeps you up at night?”

This was new, innovative, and fun back in 1997. Now, it is a cliché. It is a salesy question. If a buyer is interviewing four different companies to find the right partner, he/she can hear that question four times. In my training sessions, I work really hard with participants on asking open-ended questions that avoid this trap. The goal is to come up with classic questions that never go out of style. “What are your biggest worries when it comes to switching advisors?” If I am a buyer and you ask me a worry question, I’ll talk about my worries. You don’t have to make it a cliché about what keeps me up at night.

Another pitfall that I encourage sales professionals to stay away from involves trading questions: “If we are able to do X and Z for you, will you agree to do Y?” Asking open-ended questions with “If”; is a manipulative construction. Buyers see that you are trying to get them to say yes to something before they are ready. They hear the start of a » Continue Reading.

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March 17th, 2016

Generate Deeper Sales Dialogues with Strong Open-ended Questions

open-ended questions

When it comes to planning a questioning strategy, this is my philosophy: It is OK to ask people questions; it is not OK to question them.

What’s the difference? If the police show up at your door, put you in handcuffs, guide you to the backseat of their patrol car, and take you to the station, they’re going to question you. More to the point, they’re going to interrogate you.

When people feel questioned, they feel interrogated. It doesn’t matter if it happens at the police station or in their own office by a sales professional.

If, instead, people are asked questions, a dialogue can begin.

One of the more effective ways to generate dialogue is through the use of open-ended questions. These are the type that allows the customer or prospect to participate, engage, and elaborate in a discussion. Open-ended questions get customers talking and sharing information vs. feeling like the sales professional is drilling and grilling them.

Remember, we are all human beings, and human beings look for two things in an interaction. We want to be listened to, and we want to be understood. If I am a buyer, and I feel listened to and understood, then I will repay the favor and listen to what you have to say about your product, your service, and how you think that you can help me. So, if you want to ask me questions, first, let me talk » Continue Reading.

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November 17th, 2015

What Sinatra Teaches Us about Consultative Selling

Frank-sinatra-consultative-selling

What Sinatra Teaches Us about Consultative Selling

It’s been 100 years since Frank Sinatra was born, on December 12, 2015. Even though he’s been gone since 1998, he remains an icon, with a growing following. His classic sound and signature style have earned such accolades as “a voice for all generations” with “unmatched showmanship and artistry.”

Why is Frank Sinatra relevant in a blog post about consultative selling? Because he stands the test of time, as does the consultative selling framework for structuring sales calls and client meetings. In today’s socially networked world, where trending topics tend to capture the most attention, Sinatra’s legacy refutes the idea that the latest, shiniest tools are always better than the tried and true.

When it comes to successful selling over the long term, we can all take a few lessons from Sinatra:

Ol’ Blue Eyes

Sinatra had a vision for what worked with an audience. He connected with people. He used all of the skills at his disposal: poise, style, phrasing, and tempo. He “killed” in concert, causing women to swoon and scream. Such engagement wasn’t by accident but, it was by drawing on his strengths and matching them to audience needs and desires.

Consultative selling also focuses on engaging the audience, in this case, prospects and clients. But, it’s more than relationship building. A true consultative approach makes the transition from product-based selling to needs-based. A consultative sales professional » Continue Reading.

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June 11th, 2015

How to Ask Probing Questions during Sales Meetings

probing-questions

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.

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February 28th, 2014

Sales Dialogues – Provoking Needs, Can you do this?

provoke-sales-dialogues

Sales Dialogues – Provoking Needs, Can you do this?

When engaging in a sales dialogue with a prospect or client, it is important to acknowledge their current needs before approaching them with new needs. To provoke a need, sales reps can establish credibility by sharing insights and asking questions to better understand the client.

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April 2nd, 2013

Communicating a Brilliant Idea that Commands the Client’s Attention

Communicating a brilliant idea that commands the client’s attention

Today’s Blog is written by Michael Dalis,  a Richardson facilitator & coach.

You know the look.  I’m the client.  You’re seated across the table from me.  In response to my question or request, you’ve begun laying out the details behind a brilliant idea that you are convinced will help my organization.  The problem is, the deeper you go into your solution, the more and more disengaged I become.  At first, there’s some eye contact, polite nodding, and the occasional grunt of acknowledgment.  Then, I begin looking at my watch and, longingly, at the door as I plan my escape.  What you hear as appreciation and agreement to your proposed next step is, in fact, an end to our discussion so that I can get back to my real work — and sincere doubt about whether I will subject myself again to this “death by 1,000 facts.”

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October 10th, 2012

6 Steps to Enable Your Sales Team to Sell with Insight

Insight Selling

6 Steps to Enable Your Sales Team to Sell with Insight

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, it should come as no surprise to you that buyer behavior has changed dramatically. I’ve come across a number of well-written research documents, such as Base One’s “2012 Buyersphere” report and Forbes Insight’s “The Rise of the Digital C-Suite” study, that highlight how this is playing out in the marketplace. Simply put, buyers are more educated, better prepared, and further along in their buying process when they engage sellers.

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August 10th, 2012

Essential Questions to Ask Buyers in the Win-Loss Review Process

Win-Loss Review

One of the most critical components of your win-loss review process is knowing what to ask. This is a golden opportunity to connect with clients or potential clients to find out how your company is doing, including the quality of your sales reps, products, marketing, pricing, and delivery. Don’t blow it.

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