Over-Responding to Your Customers With Better Questions

Become a better sales coach and sales manager today.

Do you remember like it was yesterday where you could get away with connecting with your key accounts on a less frequent basis? Today, you must over-respond and over-communicate to the needs of your customers or risk losing them to your competition.

8-Steps to Creating a Coaching Culture by Keith RosenIf you’re in the transactional selling business or are an order taker, then chances are, you don’t always have the strongest relationships with your customers. Therefore, more time must be spent fostering stronger relationships with key clients in order to insulate them from your competition. After all, tighter budgetary constraints = less spending = fewer and smaller selling opportunities = increased competition. Or does it have to be this way? What about this model.

Tighter budgetary constraints = less spending + making the needed adjustments in your selling strategy to account for this change = Capture greater market share.

This doesn’t mean calling on your key accounts just to “check in.” Just the other day, I received a voice mail from my credit card processing company. They were calling, and I quote, “Just to see how things are going.” Gee, this is certainly not the type of call that’s going to stimulate new sales or more sales.

Instead, have a better set of timely questions that will help you understand how the current economic crisis has affected the way they do business and make purchasing decisions.

Especially today, there are many salespeople who are hiding under their desk in fear not wanting to talk to their customers. This is a perfect opportunity for you to seize more market share.

The salesperson of tomorrow will continue to evolve into more than a salesperson, but a valuable resource and a trusted advisor throughout the entire selling process; and beyond.

This presents a huge opportunity to mine for additional upselling and cross selling opportunities.

Think about it for a moment. To develop the possibility for a sale, you have to uncover two critical things:

  1. Where the Prospect or Customer is Now (Current State)
  2. Where They Want to Be (Desired State)

It’s your job to move them from their current state to their desired state through the use of better questions. If you want to know if your questions are being effective, just ask yourself this; are your questions giving you all of information you need to know about your prospect and their situation? The wrong questions will not only provide you with the wrong information but they will guide you right out of a sale and any selling opportunity that may have existed.

Here are some relevant questions to explore with your current customers and prospects to uncover their priorities, how they are making purchasing decisions today and any upselling opportunities that may exist:

  1. How has the current market/economy impacted your business?
  2. What are you now doing differently as a result?
  3. How have your priorities changed? What’s your single most important initiative?
  4. How are decisions regarding (new purchases, existing purchases, working with current venders) made now? Has that changed?
  5. How has this impacted the way you allocate your budget and your spending?
  6. How is this all affecting you and your job?
  7. How can I be a resource to you?

When prospecting, it’s going to be the following decision oriented questions that are going to move the sales process forward and motivate your prospect to want to buy from you. These types of discovery questions will enable you to develop a greater sense of urgency that will motivate them to make a buying decision.

  1. Mr. Prospect If you could eliminate three of your biggest problems, headaches, or stresses as they relate to [STATE SERVICE/TASK] what would they be? (If there were three problems that you would want to see resolved with your current service provider what would they be?) (Ineffective solution, frustration, stress, etc.)
  2. How does this (current problem, headache) affect you and your life? (Tie in the challenges they are experiencing to their position. What’s their personal cost as a result of these challenges?)
  3. If you don’t make any changes, then what do you think it’s going to cost you over time? (What is it going to cost you by not changing? What additional opportunities do you think you’re letting pass by? How will this affect your bottom line?
  4. Do you think there are opportunities you may miss out on by not changing? What cost do you incur by keeping things the way they are?)

Photo Credit: Jared Cherup