Skip to main content
The Ruby Group | Akron and Columbus, OH

Questioning

Tim, a new sales hire, was having trouble setting appointments. Miguel, his sales manager, wanted to know why. After just a little one-on-one role-play, one of Tim’s challenges became clear. During his discussions with potential business partners, Tim was focusing almost exclusively on the features of what his company offered.

June is Effective Communications Month. With that fact in mind, consider the following cautionary tale for salespeople. Will, a new salesperson, had just begun a face-to-face meeting with Maria, the CEO of a big company that Will’s manager would have dearly loved Will to close.

Betty’s quarterly numbers were low. Her manager, Milt, asked her to do some role-plays so they could identify potential areas for improvement. They spent about 20 minutes role playing through various scenarios – at which point Milt called a time-out and asked...

There's something to be said about children who continue to ask "why" about everything. When they ask and you respond, and they ask "Why?" again, it means they don't have the complete answer to their question. They will continue to ask until they understand the entire concept or until the adult gets frustrated. In business, asking "Why?" five times can produce the same quality understanding to prepare for better results. Common complaints we hear often in business:

All too frequently, salespeople schedule appointments...and then forget about them until the day before the scheduled dates. Do you? Is preparation a last-minute activity often consisting of nothing more than a quick review of the notes from the original phone conversations when the appointments were scheduled...and perhaps a review of the prospects' web sites, advertising, or marketing materials? Can you answer the following questions about your next prospect appointment

Salespeople could significantly increase their earnings if they stopped saying and believing "I know why."

Prospects like to play games with salespeople. The purpose of games prospects play is to make a salesperson feel not-OK. When a salesperson feels not-OK in front of a prospect, they are more likely to give up their time and information in the hope that their prospect will make them feel OK again. Some of the games prospects play with salespeople are: Why Don't You, Yes But - your prospect rejects every one of your suggestions with some version of "yes, but" (e.g. "we'd love to implement option A, but our budget was cut last week.")

The two words that are guaranteed to trip up most sales people are "better" and "value." The latter we'll talk about in another post. Typically the "better" trap is set by a prospect at the beginning of a meeting. After introductions and polite conversation your prospect says, "so tell me how you are better than my current supplier." If your instinct is to jump to a features-and-benefits presentation, STOP! There is no way for you to answer that question and have any chance of closing the sale. There are three reasons why your prospects set the "better" trap

Why do we think that by asking a question we'll hurt the prospect's feelings? What you need to remember is that that you are not responsible for how a prospect reacts to a question that you ask. Clients share with me daily the questions they've avoided asking for fear of upsetting the prospect. Sometimes they get frustrated with themselves because they feel they lost a sale or an opportunity of a sale because they lacked the guts to ask questions. They would rather bite their tongue than ask a question that they think might make the prospect uncomfortable

Acronyms, industry buzz-words, technical jargon — we've all used them at one point or another in our jobs. But if you've been using them when you're first getting to know your prospect, you may have made a big mistake.

We don't ordinarily think of sales as one of the "helping professions," but maybe we should. People tell their problems to psychologists and clergymen. They pour out their hearts to their neighborhood bartender. But they tell their troubles to sales professionals, too, so we should develop our "helping profession" skills. I have often noticed, when a sales pitch is going well, how the conversation resembles what I understand a therapeutic session to be like. That is the way it should be, if the salesperson knows what he or she is doing