Entrepreneurial Selling

Selling with Questions

Looking for good sales advice? Sell by asking instead of telling. Remember, it's about them, not you.

Salespeople frequently view the sales process as an opportunity to dazzle potential clients by filling their heads with all kinds of useful information about the company's products.

But in their enthusiasm to provide their clients with information, they forget another important element of selling: Questions.

It might surprise you to learn that the most successful salespeople offer their clients more questions than answers. However, the questions they ask aren't random interrogations. They are carefully crafted queries, each designed to accomplish a specific purpose. Although there are an infinite number of ways you can use questions to your advantage, here are four of the most common ways questions can be used to sell your products to a client.

Fact Gathering

Throughout the sales process, it is imperative to know the facts about your client's situation and decision-making process. Questions that are designed to gather facts are always favorably received by clients if they understand the purpose behind them - to provide them with the right product for their specific needs and circumstances. The kinds of fact gathering questions you can ask vary, but a good rule of thumb is if you are lacking a piece of information you need, just ask.

Relationship-Building Questions

Questions can also be used to cement your relationship with your client. In many cases, these questions are personal in nature. For example, if your client's office boasts a picture of him showing off a trophy marlin, you might ask him where he caught and share a brief insight about a trophy catch of your own. However, when asking personal questions you need to be careful. Keep the questions you ask at a superficial level and resist the temptation to go on and on about yourself - even if the client is a talker.

Educational Questions

Some questions aren't really questions at all. They may have a question mark at the end, but they are designed to inform the client about a certain aspect of your product or help them reach a conclusion you want them to reach. For example, you might say something like, "Did you see our product featured in the industry trade magazine last month?" That sounds like a question, but in fact it's a way of telling the client that your product is creating a buzz in the industry. Whether the client read the article or not isn't relevant. The important thing is that the question created an impression that will factor into his final decision.

Closing Questions

None of the questions you ask throughout the selling process will matter unless you know how to ask quality closing questions. There is a cliché in sales that says if you want a client's business, all you need to do is ask him for it. Some salespeople have interpreted that to mean that their closing questions should always be, "Will you buy my product?" If that works for you, great. However, usually, a direct closing like that is a big turnoff to a client because it comes off as overly direct and unsophisticated. Instead, consider using closing questions that are more conversational or take the relationship to the next level (i.e. ordering and shipment).

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