Many salespeople start the sales process by asking a closing question. For example, did you ever look at a car in a showroom and have the salesperson approach you with the question, “What would it take to have you drive home in this new car today?”
An experienced salesperson will tell you that you shouldn’t ask a closing question until you are sure that the answer will be “Yes!”
Let’s begin with a typical sales call. You start by building some rapport and trust with your prospect. This might include a warm welcome, some opening questions about them or their business, good eye contact, and other such techniques to establish a productive relationship at the beginning of a sales engagement. Once you have established some trust, follow this four step process which will help uncover their wants and needs so that you can offer the solution.
1. Start by asking your prospect some questions about what matters most to them. What are they trying to accomplish? What are their needs for living space or transportation? What are the important measures for the business this year? What will make them consider the year a success? These questions allow your prospect to talk about their envisioned future, about what they really need and want, and allow you focus on what is most important to them.
2. Next, ask your prospect questions that tell you more about what is in it for them when they achieve goals mentioned above. Good questions to ask include, “What will happen or how will your life change if you were to achieve X?” or “What will be different when you achieve X?” Rewards questions give you a sense of the value of the goals. Building value in your prospect’s mind is important. It can often tell you how much the prospect wants or needs your product or service.
3. Next ask questions that are the reverse of rewards questions. What will happen if X is not reached? If the prospect can’t achieve whatever the goal is, how will that impact the business or personal life? What will happen if you don’t get a larger home or new car? In other words, what is the downside of not achieving the goal? Many sales happen in order to avoid a problem, rather than in order to achieve a particular target. Understanding the consequences for your prospect is critical to your ability to then map your solution to their needs.
4. Finally, ask what would keep your prospect from achieving the goal? What is standing in the way of success? What challenges are they running into? These questions are very powerful tools in your sales arsenal, since they often point to problems that the client cannot overcome themselves. That’s why they need you!
You are now ready to show how your product or service is perfectly positioned to help the client achieve the goals, overcome the obstacles, achieve the rewards and avoid the consequences. Follow through, ask the questions, and let the prospect tell you what they need. If your solution aligns you will get a “yes” to your closing question.
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