Entrepreneurial Selling

Leading with Questions

Written by Chukwuma Asala for Gaebler Ventures

How can you use questions to improve your sales efficiency? How can you take control of an interview?

What are some ways that mastering the skill of asking questions can help improve your sales yield? Here are a few quick tips:

Questions give you control

One of the toughest things for inexperienced sales professionals to do is to control a conversation. The most effective way to ensure that your sales call or appointment is effective and doesn't leave you feeling like you just got dumped is to make sure you ask a lot of questions. Questions help you maintain the direction and the speed of the conversation and as such help you steer the prospective customer in the direction of your choosing. This is challenging because most people will obviously have a lot of questions before they make the decision to purchase anything from you, especially if they know what they're looking for. Get into the habit of not being too eager to answer all the questions thrown at you by people because after you have answered all their questions they do not need to talk to you anymore. You want to eliminate them making the purchasing decision based on their own knowledge as much as possible. If you do lose control ask questions to regain it. And remember, it's okay to answer a question with a question until you feel comfortable giving them the information they need.

Questions help you connect

Probably the most important dynamic that asking questions creates is helps the conversation focus on the prospect and less on you. People hate feeling they are being sold anything, but they absolutely love feeling like they just made a purchase. Big difference. If they purchase anything it was their decision. If they got sold something they were manipulated into doing it and it wasn't their decision. The only effective way for anyone to feel good about making a decision is if you're able to make them feel like it was theirs. Use questions as a way to understand what exactly they're looking for, what need they have right now that your product can fill, let their answers help you sell your product and you'll be amazed at how easy they sign the dotted line. And don't forget to ask for the sale.

Questions reduce how much you "sell" over the phone

A big misconception in sales is that people purchase based on much useful information they are provided to help them make a decision. The reality is that people purchase because they feel connected to and you can't really feel connected to someone who is talking more than you are and listening less than you are. Asking questions forces the other person to talk and shows them that you value what they have to say about them and their needs over what you're selling and all the important information that you have to give them. If you can incorporate using a script of questions into your sales calls this will greatly increase your effectiveness because everything you say will be more focused on the prospective customer and less on you.

Chukwuma Asala is an international student from Nigeria who is studying to earn an MBA from the State University of New York in Albany. He has analyzed more than 20 industry case studies throughout his education thus far, and hopes to bring some of his business knowledge to Gaebler.com.

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