“My focus is not on selling…I simply help clients buy what they need. I am always in problem solving mode, and that puts me on the client’s side of the table.” – Don Ray, management consultant
The buying/selling process begins with an introduction and an exchange of information about the buyer’s business and the seller’s product or service. It’s more informal than formal as each side assesses whether there is a level of trust and credibility to engage in a deeper conversation. A warm referral can speed up this process, otherwise you can take something from your education based marketing materials (blog post, relevant article about their business) to move the process forward.
What happens next is often the place where sales are won and lost.
In this series of blog posts about Must Have Sales Skills in 2018 the ability to question your way to the sale is one of the most important. Selling a product or service without the knowledge of specific challenges and opportunities your prospect faces is too damn hard. Selling should not be hard. If it is, you have an issue that we should discuss.
Selling is a conversation. What makes a conversation compelling? Great questions.
When coaching salespeople I recommend using a series of general questions to open a conversation then drill down once the interaction evolves. Before we dive deep into discovering wants and needs it is important to point out two additional skills that are aligned with questioning your way to the sale:
- Documenting what you have heard.
Don’t roll your eyes assuming every salesperson has mastery in these areas. The art of listening and note taking should be part of ongoing training and development of your team. Listening is a discipline that requires less interest in your next reply versus fully hearing and confirming what a prospect just said. When discovering wants and needs YOU ARE NOT SELLING. Therefore you don’t need to be concerned with injecting a closing tactic to secure the deal. Note taking is a skill that takes practice especially if a lot of information is being shared with you. You may ask permission of a prospect to record the conversation to make certain you didn’t miss anything.
Begin general with questions like: What are you trying to accomplish in your business/department in the next year? This gets the ball rolling and hopefully sets the tone for a friendly exchange of information. Then, start to narrow the focus of your questions. Words that are common in the vocabulary of a buyer are challenges, issues, opportunities and goals. As your questions start to laser in use these buzz words to gain awareness for their situation.
The fastest way to “sell” your credibility is to show genuine interest in the discovering wants and needs phase. You will see the invisible barrier slowly come down between you and the prospect and you will be perceived as being on the same side of the table. Contrast this with the salesperson who does all the talking.
Contact me and I will send to you my list of the 20 GREATEST DISCOVERY QUESTIONS…EVER!