I recently watched a sales person asking a string of detail questions with a decision maker. In my mind, I was wondering about the competency of this sales person – and I’m certain the decision maker was thinking the same thing.
Then I became amused by the sales person’s complete lack of understanding of what is important in the questioning process. After a few moments this emotion moved to frustration knowing that other sales people are doing the same thing and making it more difficult to get time with real decision makers.
Why does it become more difficult to get time with real decision makers? Because the decision makers do not want to waste their valuable time talking to incompetent sales people who have not done their homework before the meeting.
Let me explain what needs to happen more often…
First, the facts about detail questions…
- Detail questions only benefit the sales person – there is NO benefit for the decision maker.
- Inexperienced sales people ask too many of this type of question.
- Detail questions have a very poor success rate in getting a sale.
- The answers to detail questions can be found using other sources. (Homework section)
Second, everyone or anyone can ask these type of questions, so the decision makers have heard them too often and will actually pigeon hole the sales person as incompetent or boring or some other less desirable statement.
Third, good sales people who have done their homework will use a certain sales technique to show they have done their homework and only need clarification of the facts. (This is where a sales person can actually use a closed end question).
Fourth, you job as a sales person is to get past the detail type questions and move into questions for uncovering issues you can fix. This means more time asking questions to uncover problems and the consequences of the problems – including the range of problem (how many other people, departments, divisions, etc. are impacted?)
Fifth, there are always more questions that you can ask. The key is to ask the right questions to drive – your knowledge and understanding of the customer’s situation, to assist in educating your decision maker on the size of the problem and the need to solve the problem and what parameters are important to the decision maker.
In conclusion, do your homework before meeting the decision maker, ask clarification of facts questions to show you did your homework, move quickly into probing sales questions looking for problems, consequences, degree of impact, benefits for solving the problem and how would the decision maker and their company win by having the problems go away.