A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer   – Bruce Lee

Note: This is Part 2 in a 4 part series on “Probing in Sales”.

In Sales, there is always a gray area with questioning. “Did I ask too many questions or too few?” In this case, quality always wins over quantity. Asking appropriate, open ended, probing, and leading questions separates a winning salesperson from an average one. Is there a way I can learn to ask better questions? Yes, you most certainly can! Here are a few dos and don’ts:

Genuine curiosity:  Show genuine curiosity by asking relevant questions. For example, “In what areas do you feel your department can increase efficiency?”

Don’t assume: If  a customer says  “ I want a better interface.”, don’t just reply “ We have a better interface.” Instead, ask probing questions to identify what exactly the customer is looking for.

No fake superlatives: I’m sure you know a few salesmen who always reply “Great!” or “Awesome!” to every single thing a customer says. It does not add value and most customers see through this sycophancy.

Interrogating:  There are salesmen who mindlessly rattle off a bunch of scripted questions like a public prosecutor without a care for the customer’s responses. The customer is put off and your chance of a sale usually ends there.

Silence: Use silence to your advantage. If the potential client is not forth coming with a response don’t succumb to the temptation of filling the gap. Wait, watch and importantly bite your tongue. Though it may appear awkward learn to shut up. The other side is feeling the same, this may lead to a question or information you may have never thought of

Close loop: Always begin with an open question to gather information about the issue, Close loop: Always begin with an open question to gather information about the issue, deep dive into response to discover the motivations, drivers, & reasons and finally apply the closed ended question to confirm your understanding on the issue

Of course, there are tons of dos and don’ts. I’ve listed only a few, hoping that this sets you thinking.

Always arrive with the sale in mind, respect the customer’s time, seek the information you need and most importantly, first listen, and then respond.

Happy selling!!

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