Get Rid of These Sales Questions and replace them with Power Questions

Everyone is talking about how sales has changed and how we should “upgrade” ourselves to adapt to how customers buy. All the research and feedback from the top sales rainmakers from around the world speaks the same language; “We need to be consultative, challengers, offer new insights and become trusted partners to our clients.”

In order to grow and adapt, we need to let go of some bad habits and what used to work back in the day. They’ve got to go!

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Here are a few questions that have to go!

If I could show you a way to solve that problem, could we do business today?
If you like what you see in the [presentation, demo], is there any reason we couldn’t go ahead with the order?

These sales questions, which are often asked early in the conversation, are designed to get prospects to pre-commit to an action that they otherwise might not take.

The Fallout of these Sales Questions

Prospects are usually so shocked with the inappropriateness of those questions that they don't know how to react. So they give a waffling response, trying to avoid being rude but not agreeing to what was asked.

They lose respect for the seller -- who now feels more like a hustler to them than a valuable resource. If you ask these questions, it’s essential to stop immediately. But, it’s not as easy as you may think. In sales meetings, you’re often operating on auto cruise. Before you know it, you blurt them out – and then suffer the consequences.

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Plan a different approach.

Once you know that, you can consciously plan out an alternative approach before your next meeting.

Before you do something stupid again.

Repeat, repeat, repeat. Practice makes perfect, so you need to practice these new approaches before you say them to prospects.

Say that alternative approach out loud. You’ll immediately discover that it feels awkward. That’s because it’s new to you. Say it again. And again, till you get comfortable with this new language. If, after saying it aloud for a while, it doesn’t sound good, think of how to improve it.

If you keep asking those questions, you’re virtually guaranteed to lose business with today’s savvy prospects who’ll think you’re a dinosaur or totally out of your mind.

Here are a few power Questions to get clients thinking:

  1. Why? “Why is that your strategy? ”Why do you say that?” “Why do A versus B?” By asking why, you are asking buyers to justify something.
  2. How? How do you see this all panning out? How do you think you need to proceed so this becomes a part of the culture? How might you avoid the common challenges like X, or Y, or Z that commonly crop up? How questions get people thinking about reality.
  3. What have you tried that hasn’t worked? This question will help you understand their thinking, and will help you see the gaps between what they know won’t work, and what you know will.
  4. What will happen if you don’t act? Asking this question gets buyers thinking of the negative consequences of inaction.
  5. What’s possible? What’s possible for results? What’s possible for action? What’s possible for solution choices? Like impact, whatever you find here gives you the chance to then alter their perception.
  6. How do you know that? Buyers often give “facts” without foundation. Or, they may give facts with foundation that once was true, but isn’t anymore. By asking for the reasoning behind a statement, you can help the buyer question the fundamental basis for their assumptions.

These will get customers thinking, and that's what we need to do in order to offer new insights and extract the information, whereby customers feel they collaborate with us.

Struggling to make headway in these markets? I coach and advise sales teams and individuals on the latest methods of selling.