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Questions That Sell

Page history last edited by Sean Murphy 11 years, 2 months ago

Questions That Sell: The Powerful Process for Discovering What Your Customer Really Wants


by Paul Cherry


Why ask good questions?

  • Motivate your prospective customers to do the talking.
  • Differentiate yourself from your competitors
  • Demonstrate empathy for your prospective customers.
  • Facilitate a prospective customer's awareness of his needs and help him come to his own conclusions
  • Prompt a prospective customer to recognize the importance of taking action.
  • Discover how a particular company makes a purchasing decision, as well as whom the decision makers are within the company.


Your opening sound bite in a pitch should hit on the emotional desire to overcome failure and/or achieve greater success. 98% of prospects want one or the other.


Start with warm-up questions. Don't sell too hard too early.


Ask about the past. For example:

  • What would you say is different about your organization today from when you started with this company?
  • What have been some of your likes and dislikes with vendors in the past?
  • Since you have been with the company, what have been some of the biggest hurdles you have faced?


Questions to uncover problems:

  • What problems are you currently experiencing?
  • What's working? What's not?
  • If you could wind back the clock or wave a magic wand, what would you change?


Questions to disrupt existing vendor relationships:

  • How does your ideal situation compare with your current situation?
  • If you could change one thing about your current vendor, what would it be?


Questions to strengthen existing customer relationships:

  • How can we make your life easier?
  • What is it that you value most about doing business with us?


The "why" question. Getting information on motives:

  • Walk me through the steps that led you to this conclusion.
  • Share with me what is motivation your decision to...?
  • What's in it for you to implemen this....?


Your customers' decision making criteria:

  • How do you measure success with a current vendor?
  • When it comes to price, quality, service, devliery, customer support, and ease of use, which is most important to you?
  • Let's assume you are looking at three potential vendors who meet all of your criteria, including price. How would you then make a decision?


Three step qualifying process to a prospect's answer:

  • Agree - Find something in the response to which you can agree.
  • Clarify - After agreeing with some part, get as much detail as possible about the response.
  • Legitimize -- determine if prospect is sincere or just trying to get rid of you politely. For example, before comitting to trip out there in person, say, "Let's just assume that I come out to your facility for a day. You're able to pull a group of people together, we do a demo, and everyone really finds value in what we have to offer. What do you see happening next?"
    • Other ways to begin legitimizing questions: "Assuming we can.." "What if..." "Let's just pretend..." "Just suppose..." "Imagine for a moment..."


Expansion Questions

Ordinary: Who is the decision maker? When will you make a decision? What is your time frame?

Expansion: Walk me through your company's decision-making process.


Ordinary: What do you like about your current vendor?

Expansion: Describe for me the qualities you look for when choosing a vendor.


Ordinary: Is price important to you? Is quality important to you? Is service important to you?

Expansion: Explain to me the criteria you use to make a decision.


Lock-On Questions

Customer: We have been trying to get this project off the ground for several months.

Lock-On: I noticedy ou said the word "trying." What has worked so far and what has not?


Customer: I am looking for a partnership rather than just someone to sell me a product.

Lock-On: Could you give me some specifics of what you mean when you say "partnership"?


Vision Questions - they have the word "if"

  • If we could elimnate that problem you are currently experiencing, that problem that is costing you $1 M a year, what effects do you think that would have on your company?
  • If those changes in your career were to happen now, how do you think your life would look five years from now?
  • If this problem were solved, what would it enable you to do?



The Four Step Process for Handling Objections

  1. Find a Point of Agreement. "Your price is too high" they say. Instead of arguing, say something like "I understand that money is an important issue to you."
  2. Offer a Question of Clarity. Ask a question that gets to the heart of the problem.
  3. Educate the Customer. Show concrete results from other customers, show examples, use comparisons / metaphors.
  4. Secure a Comittment.


More questions to clarify price

  • Who else will be involved in approving the budget?
  • How will the funding be determined for this project?
  • What kind of ROI are you expecting?


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