Questions are the sales professional’s most powerful tool in building trust-based relationships in which he or she helps the prospect find a valuable solution. Properly used, questions result in the prospect doing the vast majority of the talking in the sales interview. If the right level of rapport is achieved, and the right questions are asked, the prospect will describe exactly what needs they have, what problems exist, what consequences are resulting or could result from not solving the problem, etc. Then the prospect will have the opportunity to describe the ideal solution and how finding that solution would provide benefits much greater than the investment required. The prospect “sells” himself or herself, in other words, and the only real “presenting” the sales professional then does is to specifically describe how the product will deliver that solution and then addresses any concerns the prospect has before asking for the prospect’s commitment.
Directing this process can be accomplished with a variety of questions, both open-ended and closed ended. The most valuable skill a sales professional can learn is how to ask good questions. Exactly what is a “good” question may vary with the situation, the product, the industry, the personality type and communication style of both the sales professional and the prospect. Learning how to be a good “questioner” is both an art and a science and comes from lots of practice. The good news is, you can “practice” in just about every area of your life, because this skill can benefit you in every area of your life.
One type of question I’d suggest avoiding are “why” questions. This is simply because why questions sometimes result in the prospect going on the defensive. This may seem like a minor thing, but if you think about your own experiences, you’ll probably find that “why” questions seem like a challenge or even an accusation.
Try to find a way to ask “why” without using the word “why” and you’ll stand a better chance of building more solid rapport throughout the interview, whether it’s a sales interview or any situation where you’re working to persuade.
Men are best convinced by reasons they themselves determine.” – Ben Franklin