Since questions and the questioning model are so critical to your b2b sales success, I want to cover the importance and difference between general and specific questions. There is a direct relationship between general and specific questions usage in the b2b sales process.
First, as a reminder, why are you using questions in the b2b sales process?
Because using questions engage the buyer and involve them in creating a solution for their issues and concerns. Questions are used to gain the prospects interest and attention to solving a problem – their problem and the associated pain of their problem.
Second, there is a right and wrong way to use general and specific questions.
What you want to do is ask a question focusing upon a Probable Issue or Problem. The question should be broad enough to capture their interest yet, not so specific to cause a rejection of interest.
If the question is too general, your prospect may have no or little interest in engaging in additional discussions about this issue. Any type of disinterest can stop your b2b sales process cold. If you have this happen too often in the field, then it indicates you are being too general or attempting to remain “safe” in your questioning process. Increase your level of boldness and ask more provocative questions (think bold) to get a robust dialogue going with a prospect.
If you ask too specific a question, particularly without doing your homework or research into possible issues or problems the prospect is currently encountering – then you will lose your prospect’s attention. Do your homework or research, study the industry trends for your targeted accounts and ask others about the issues or problems they see in their company.
By doing the right amount of research or pre-call homework, you will be prepared to ask better questions targeting potential issues or problems. Use examples of issues or problems you have found with other companies in their industry to verify if it exists in the target company. Using examples of existing customers shows your expertise and experience level – without talking about you!
Finally, after you have identified real issues or problems, you are ready to move up the ladder of the questioning model. It is now time to increase the pain of the problem or issues to increase the sense of urgency to take action or make changes. Here is why you begin to show your expertise so ask the consequence type questions to build the level and amount of pain.