By Wendy Connick
If you spend your sales appointments giving a lecture about your product and how great it is, you’re working way too hard at entirely the wrong things. A much more effective approach is to ask questions that draw your prospect out. When done effectively, you can end up getting your prospects to sell to themselves! At the very least, you’ll learn a lot about what the prospect wants from your product – which means you can laser-focus your presentation on just those points.
Asking your prospect a series of open-ended questions during your presentation serves three important purposes. First, it helps you to confirm whether or not the prospect is a good fit for your product. Second, it helps you to identify their hot-button benefits, which in turn allows you to fine-tune your pitch. And third, by getting them to talk about various benefits you sneak the information past the prospect’s “salesperson filter.”
Not every question listed here is a perfect fit for every prospect, but these examples will give you a good place to start.
Ideally, once you ask a few questions, the prospect will launch into speech and you won’t need to do any prompting at all.
Buying History Questions
By learning more about the prospect’s previous buying experiences, you’ll get a glimpse of how his mind works and what his buying routines are.
- What experiences, good or bad, have you had with this [product type] (e.g. “What experiences, good or bad, have you had with buying cars?”)
- When did you last buy a [product type]?
- What process have you gone through in the past to buy a [product type]?
- Has that process worked well for you? How/how not?
- What have you already tried doing to fix the problem with your current [product type]?
- What have you purchased from us before?
- How did that purchase go?
These questions relate to the specific transaction you’re hoping to initiate.
- What prompted you to meet with me today?
- What qualities do you look for in a [product type]?
- Which quality is most important to you?
- What don’t you like to have in a [product type]?
- What is your timeline for buying a [product type]?
- What is your budget?
- Who else is involved in the purchasing decision?
These questions get your prospect talking about himself and help you develop some level ofrapport with him (and also help you find out the prospect’s likes and dislikes, which can help quite a bit).
- How long have you been with the company? (for B2B sales)
- Where did you buy that beautiful sofa? (B2C)
- How old are your children? How many do you have? (If you see a photo)
- What would you like this [product type] to do for you?
If a prospect gives only a brief response to an important question, try drawing out more information.
- Tell me more about that.
- Can you give me an example?
- Can you be more specific?
- How did that affect you?
Until your prospect voices his objections, you can’t do anything about them. If a prospect hasn’t raised any objections then a little questioning can draw them out.
- What are your thoughts so far?
- Do you have any concerns? What are they?
- What other subjects should we discuss?
- Is there any reason we shouldn’t move forward?