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Attract The Right Job Or Clientele:
Note: Ian Moyse, Chief Revenue Officer, OneUp Sales provides today’s guest blog.
Ian Moyse is a long-time Sales Leader and has built many new business sales teams in small start-ups and large corporate organizations. Awarded the accolade of UK Sales Director of the year by BESMA and listed in the top 50 Sales Keynote speakers by Top Sales World in 2019 & 2020. Ian has been a regular judge on the Women in Sales Awards (WISA), Top Sales Awards, and BESMA.
Do You Sell Using Questions?
Questions Precede Answers
As a sales leader, I meet with many sales peers and interview salespeople seeking a new role and the pleasure of sitting as a judge on numerous sales awards. I see a constant flow of salespeople who believe they have nowhere else to go, have stopped investing in honing their skills, and who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. I am cynical, but I am also frustrated by the prevailing mantra of assumed greatness, a self-belief that they nailed the basics years ago.
So, what is missing?
Ask a salesperson what skills they wish to train, and invariably hear ‘Negotiating Skills,’ ‘Enterprise Selling,’ sometimes ‘Social Selling.’ They are all valuable skills. I find it frustrating that the assumption is they have mastered the basics yet do not demonstrate so in their actions.
The essential sales skill to learn out of the gate that needs constant practice and tuning is questioning. I interview a wide range of salespeople, many with years of experience to their name, but who demonstrate poor to average questioning skills. I count questioning skills as the pre-research that leads to intelligent, prepared questions into this mix.
“Questions precede answers!
Good questioning requires:
- Pre and after-thought
- Active listening skills to hear what is said, both in context and tonality.
For this reason, I encourage quality questioning to be done verbally, on the phone, or in-person in a ‘true’ conversation. Often, I hear a Salesperson report that they had a customer conversation, but it turns out to be an email exchange when questioned. Email is better than no communication, for sure, but it is not a 2-way conversation. Accordingly, each reply is pre-thought and can be reconsidered and edited. The structure is very different from a live, flowing dialogue.
Numerous psychological reports have shown that a far lower percentage of communication interpretation is from the words when compared to the intonation and expression. It explains why so many digital communication breakdowns occur.
For the Salesperson, questioning skills were the first thing they learned and the first thing they moved past! They too quickly considered questioning as complete to mistakenly progress to the follow-on process.
Questioning needs to align to certain edicts with continuing practice until they become habitual. When asked, most salespeople will quote a methodology such as SPIN, BANT, SCOTSMAN, TAS, or one of the many others. While these provide a baseline to adhere to, they do not showcase the detail required to apply day-to-day client interaction.
I hear salespeople with pride citing that they know the acronyms and are good at questioning. Yet when challenged, they fail to demonstrate (in most cases) having moved past this superficial level. Ask the average Salesperson, and they will roll off facts to prove they asked the budget, the timescale, who makes the decision and why there is a need. However, upon delving into the matter further, one quickly finds that this is the only level of detail questioned. It is what training and methods cite.
The more adept salesperson will know the budget and the essential associated factors such as:
- The total budget amount
- The person in charge of setting the budget
- The process for changing the budget
- The outcome if the solution preferred doesn’t meet the budget
The better-performing salespeople will know the sign-off process for this level and divide the project into products and services. Now, this needs to be done in a natural ‘earn the right’ approach and not simply reeling off a list of 50 questions, wearing down your prospective client in a non-conversational list. The practiced skill now comes into play! The peeling of the onion, asking a question(s) upon the answer, upon more questions is the skill of good questioning and qualification.
Questioning is essential throughout the sales process. A salesperson knowing 20 more things than a competitor about the client’s needs and motivations enjoys a more significant opportunity to be the selected vendor. Also, post conversation, there is nothing wrong in reviewing your notes yourself or with a colleague or manager to identify missed questions and go back to the client to request a follow-up call.
For example, one might say,
‘After reviewing the notes that I took from our call, I realize that I have missed a few important questions that will help me serve you better. May we arrange a time to speak to clarify these points?’
In this manner, demonstrate to your client:
- The interest you have from the previous call
- The time you invest in analyzing the answers they gave
- Professionalism in your approach.
You do not have to nail questioning the first time every time. Instead, practice a respectful, professional method that helps you and the client have a more informed engagement.
Questioning is a honed skill. Done well, you can get information from a prospective client that the prior competitor salesperson did not. Why? Either they did not ask or did not do so with rapport and skill to have the customer see value in sharing their answer. You can question your way into a win early in the sale and differentiate yourself as the more trusted sales professional.
For More Insights: Visit Elinor’s Amazon Author Page
“Communicate to Attract Interest”
As the CEO of Smooth Sale, after her near-death experience, Stutz adapted the motto, “Believe, Become, Empower.”Nice Girls DO Get the Sale is an International Best-Selling and Evergreen book – among the classics; HIRED! Helped many to secure the job they desired.
Related Blog Stories:
Sales Tips: Do You Sell Using Questions?
- Prospective clients enjoy the question, ‘how did you choose your career?’
- Another initial question on a first appointment is to ask, ‘you must be so busy; what sparked an interest to take the time to speak with me today?’
- Questions engage your prospects; attempt to question more and talk less.
- Prospective clients enjoy a free-flowing conversation that begins with a question.
- Salespeople with experience learn to listen more carefully to catch underlying potential issues by asking questions.
- Upon hearing a concern, ask another question to uncover a possible problem.
- The heart of all sales conversations is to include QLC, Question-Listen-Clarify.
- When you sell using questions, you are far more likely to open extra doors of opportunity.
- The free-flowing conversations usually prompt more significant sales and a loyal clientele.
- Celebrate Success!
Today’s insights are provided to help you achieve the Smooth Sale!
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