Questioning in the Sales Process

Creating The Right Foundation

Those involved in the sales process need a range of skills in order to be successful. These include a thorough knowledge and understanding of their products and services, knowledge of the market and competitors, an ability to build and maintain relationships and particularly they need to be skilled in asking questions.

This short article looks at the type of questioning skills that are required to build an effective relationship.

Clearly questions are a key component in the sales process and provide sellers, consultants, account managers or anyone involved in sales valuable information such as

  • What are the needs of their organisation?
  • How immediate or urgent are these needs?
  • Can the needs be developed so they match your offering more closely?
  • What are their feelings and thoughts are about your offering?
  • How close are they to taking a decision?
  • Who is involved in decision taking?
  • What are the politics in the organisation?

There are many methods of questioning in the sales process that are suggested by training organisations from the very prescriptive and mechanical to the almost therapeutic approach.

In sales we need a combination of these techniques probing where appropriate to get the client really thinking about their situation but also gaining simple straightforward facts.

We believe at Dynamiq that a questioning approach is essential to success, but this needs to be an intelligent one, asking a range of questions. We want to take the discussion to a level where we get customers thinking about challenges they face and what they really want to achieve.

Gain Insight, Trust, and Understand Their Needs

What we are going to do is introduce a technique that will help you in getting to know the person over time and this will help us to create a foundation, really getting to understand the customer and their needs.

Later we will explore how to sell effectively to the customer.

Taken from the world of psychology laddering is a technique which can help develop rapport and find out about individuals motivations.

It is a technique for questioning that can help us to gain insights about others and in particular why they:-

  • Do the things they do.
  • Believe certain things.
  • Act in particular ways.
  • Say the things they say

The technique can only work if accompanied by genuine interest and curiosity about the other person. This means listening carefully and not interpreting what is said too quickly, and without any checking out.

Usually if we demonstrate that we are not judging the other person then they will feel OK about the conversation and feel more able to trust us.

Most of us like talking about ourselves when we feel there is sufficient trust and we feel valued if the other person is able to show a non-judgemental interest. These skills form a foundation that enables us to build and maintain effective working relationships.

The ladder enables you to go deeper and really understand your customer’s values and beliefs and factors which will influence their motivation to buy your services and products.

How To Start The Sales Process With Laddering

Start with simple and straightforward facts, for example:

  • What did you do before coming into this job?
  • How much time do you spend on various elements of the job?
  • What do you understand as your key responsibilities?
  • What do you find most challenging?

If we have listened carefully then we can then ladder down to a deeper layer and follow up what we have heard with further questions for example:

  • What do you enjoy about your work?
  • What do you find difficult?
  • What specific events have you found exciting and why?
  • What events have you found difficult and why?
  • How did you feel on that occasion?

Again if we have held good attention and listened carefully we can go deeper still for example:

  • Why do you think you felt that way?
  • Would you normally respond this way?
  • Why do you think this might be?
  • Why do you think you find this difficult?
  • What interests you about this so much?

Finally we may on a few occasions go a little further:

  • What does that tell you about yourself?
  • Why is that important to you?
  • Why do you hold that belief?
  • What effect does that have on others around you?

These are not the only questions you will ask but they will form the basis of a long term relationship and the customer will get the customer thinking about their real priorities.

Later we will talk about some questions that can be really useful in moving the sales process forward.

This entry was posted in Articles, The Sales Process. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply