Stupid questions lose sales

Use a systematic approach

Smart and savvy professionals and great salespeople ask smart questions. Knowing how to ask the smart questions is crucial for the survival of your business and affects your earnings. Smart questions help differentiate you from the competition. Smart questions are powerful and should be used like a surgical instrument on your sales calls.

Asking smart questions in the sales process is vital to finding, qualifying and closing deals, as well as offering the best possible solutions for your potential customers. To be successful at selling, you must systematically approach your customers with a repertoire of impactful questions that ensures you clearly understand their business challenges, struggles and goals.

Contrary to popular belief, there is such a thing as a stupid question and salespeople ask them every day. Salespeople are notorious for asking stupid questions. Stupid questions anger and waste your prospects time. Stupid questions close doors and opportunities. Stupid questions destroy your trust and credibility.

Maybe you think the best way to keep your customers happy is by side-stepping and avoiding ruffling their feathers with tough, hard-hitting and uncomfortable questions. Think again!  Your clients can’t fix their issues, solve their problems or elevate their pains if you don’t ask smart questions to acknowledge them and bring them to the surface.

What makes a great question? A question that makes customers think objectively, provides valuable insight, challenges current thinking, identifies gaps prospects can’t see, demonstrates expertise and moves the sale forward.

What is a stupid question? What is your budget? What will it take to earn your business? Are you the decision maker? You do like to save money right? If I could show you a way to save money would you be interested? If I could wave a magic wand? What keeps you up at night? (And sadly, so many more.)

Asking questions is a skill that is practiced to be mastered. Doctors, detectives, police, interrogators and members of the military study this skill.  They know that the right questions at the right time get them the answers they need. Would you trust doctor who recommends surgery or a radical treatment prior to examining you?

I work with many companies that tell salespeople “what to say” instead of teaching them “what to ask.” The power is in the asking, not in the telling.  Companies that embrace this fact will end up ahead of the competition and close more sales.

I don’t tell salespeople to go out and ask a bunch of meaningless and random questions; I teach them to ask the right questions at the right time. Asking questions in a completely random fashion is unproductive and ineffective, especially in this competitive business environment.  Instead, I teach them how questions can be used to pique the customer’s interest and establish credibility within the sales process. They learn to use questions to identify greater needs and uncover more accurate information from potential customers.

Asking strategic questions earns you the right to probe further and gain a complete understanding of your customer’s needs.  Once you have earned that right, you can escalate the impact of your questions to increase your value. How you phrase, position and line up your questions has a major impact on your customer’s responsiveness.

Asking these tough and probing questions will get your customers to start divulging critical info that they never shared before, because you probably never asked. You can only position yourself and your product as better solutions to your customer’s problems when you understand her true needs and desires.

Digging into the dirt with tough but crucial probing questions is the best way to unearth the answers that will help you help your clients fix their issues, solve their problems or elevate their pains.

The right questions at the right time create the right opportunities. If your questions are not yielding the results you desire, don’t go on another sales call without getting help!

Categories: Sales & Marketing