Asking prospects the right questions at the right time is crucial to being an effective salesperson. Make sure your questions move prospects closer to the sale.
“Are salespeople asking their prospects the wrong questions?” As I mentioned in my last post, this was a conversation that came up while being interviewed by Geoffrey James for an article he was writing for Selling Power magazine on what managers need to do to effectively coach their sales team when cold calling.
The answer to this question? Well, it’s actually yes and no. Yes, many salespeople are asking good questions that help uncover whether or not the prospect is a fit for the product or service they are selling. Conversely, many are asking the wrong questions that drive the prospect away from you, rather than move them closer to a sale.
The real universal gap that I see after coaching and training thousands of salespeople, regardless of industry or profession, is the set of deeper qualifying and disqualifying questions that need to be asked, which simply aren’t. These are the questions that go beyond uncovering the more obvious criteria that may determine whether or not the person is indeed a likely candidate for your solution, product or service. I’m referring to the tougher questions salespeople are more reluctant to explore that uncover the prospect’s underlying thinking, the real decision makers involved as well as the decision making process that goes on behind the scenes which most salespeople are unaware of.
Instead, these salespeople operate under a cloak of ambiguity and false hope. Because they don’t have all the data they need that would determine whether or not the selling opportunity is authentic, many wind up investing their time and energy on moving the wrong prospects through their selling cycle.
Now the cost to the salesperson and the company is exponential; lost time spent on the wrong prospects x time not invested uncovering the truly qualified ones.
If you are often left in a state of shock when you lose a sale you thought you had, never hear back from a certain prospect who you thought was great fit or if you’re spending your time guessing, hypothesizing, wondering and justifying why a prospect fell into the growing abyss of lost selling opportunities and stalled sales, I can guarantee you this; it’s because you’re not asking the deeper questions that need to be asked.
Photo Credit: Corey Templeton