The Power of Asking Great Questions

As Claude Levi-Strauss stated: “The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he poses the right questions.”

This sounds simple, but how do you go about asking the right questions?

Questioning is one of the hardest areas for sales professionals to master. Most of us were never taught how to ask great questions, maybe because we think we should be able to figure out the answers on our own. It’s time to change this way of thinking.

Of the four steps of the sales process – opening, information gathering, presenting and closing – a whopping 75% of the sales process takes place in the second or information gathering step. So instead of feeling like you should know all the answers, approach this all-important second step with enthusiasm and child-like curiosity!

Let’s face it…people are flattered when you want to hear their stories, so get them talking. It all begins with conversational starters. These are phrases that can help you direct a question to get the information you’re looking for. Here are some examples that can be used in a variety of ways as you maneuver toward a successful sale:

Can you share with me what you are…
…looking for in a provider?
…trying to accomplish?

How do you determine…
…which suppliers are best for your applications?
…the best way to rise above your competitors?

Would you be willing to help me understand the pros and cons of…
…your current method of ordering monthly?
…each of your locations ordering separately?

These and other open-ended questions can provide you with very valuable insights into the prospect’s world. Know what you want to ask before a meeting. Listen very attentively. Then use the information gathered to help them do what they are doing…only better.

When it comes to honing your questioning skills, Larry Bird said it best: “A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses those skills to accomplish his goals.”

So, work your tail off to further develop your questioning skills and it will pay off. The greater the questions you ask, the more you will able to truly differentiate your company and create the urgency needed to close the sale and reach your personal goals.

Here’s a question for YOU: Are you ready???


ETIQUETTE CORNER:
Are You Setting Yourself up for Reality TV?

Be careful not to underestimate the power of wearing appropriate clothing in the workplace. You do not want to suffer the humility of your boss, co-workers or clients nominating you for the reality show, “What Not to Wear.”

How do you guard against your choice of clothing hurting your chance for success as a sales professional? Keep these timeless Emily Post axioms in mind when it comes to your professional wardrobe:

1. Keep it understated. Understatement has always been a sign of being well dressed.
2. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Look at employees above you or in the department you aspire to work in, and see how they dress.
3. Respectfully represent your company. Dress for your audience.
4. Keep it neat and clean. Clothing should be neat, pressed and clean. Dirty shoes are never okay. Shoe polish does amazing things.
5. Don’t reveal too much. If you question if a piece of clothing is unsuitable in any way, it probably is. Look authoritative and competent.
6. Dress for the time of day. Don’t wear something inappropriately formal or informal to work just to be ready for an event after work. What is appropriate at a nightclub is not appropriate during the day.
7. Don’t be a fashion victim. Chasing after every passing trend probably isn’t wise.

Keep in mind that dressing as your peers do, with a little more style, will give you an advantage anywhere. Demonstrate that you are committed to your job and care about your company by the good choices you make.