Many salespeople start the sales process by asking a closing question? For example, did you ever look at a car and have the salesperson approach you with this question: “What would it take to have you drive home in this new car today?”
The salesperson wants you to say yes. However, an experienced salesperson will tell you that you shouldn’t ask a closing question until you are sure that the answer will be “Yes!” This means that you first need to determine your prospect’s wants and needs.
I have found in my coaching process that most people having trouble with sales do not take the time to ask questions of their prospects before asking for the sale.
You won’t make the sale if you move too quickly just as you would not drive to a destination ignoring all traffic lights. Think of the sales buying selling process as a series of traffic signals. Don’t cross each intersection until it is safe.
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. When talking with your client, start by asking them 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? What do they personally want to accomplish in X time? We call these questions goal questions. They allow your prospect to talk about their envisioned future, about what they really need and want, and allow you to laser-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 those goals. 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. We call these rewards questions. 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 people say that most sales happen in order to avoid a problem, rather than in order to achieve a particular target. Therefore these are called consequences questions. Understanding the consequences for your prospect is critical to your ability to then map your solution to their needs.
4. Last, 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! Using these obstacles questions you can identify internal challenges and obstacles, and if your product or service can solve those issues then your ability to sell just got easier.
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 related to that goal. If necessary, draft a number of questions for each of the steps prior to your sales call. 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.