At this point, every sales trainer and his mom tells you to ask questions of prospects in order to qualify that prospect, but just ‘asking questions’ is only part of the story. The types of questions you ask are more important than just asking any questions. Not all questions are created equal. Here are three things to consider when asking your prospects questions:
- Stop asking exclusively product questions: Most sales people spend most of their qualification phase of a sales process asking product-related questions. “Do you want the product in blue or red?” is not an effective question to qualify a prospect. Rather, focus your questions on really understanding the prospect to determine if there is in fact a fit.
- Ask about their challenges: You solve a particular set of challenges for your prospects. If your prospect doesn’t have the challenges you solve, then that prospect is not a fit. On the other hand, if a prospect does have those challenges, then he is more likely to be qualified. Ask questions such as, “Tell me more about your biggest challenges with regards to operations/branding/sales/staffing/whatever-you-solve.”
- Keep them simple: When sales people ask questions, they often think that they get bonus points for complexity of question. The opposite, however, is true. The simpler your questions are, the more likely you are to really understand your prospect’s challenges. A great question can be as simple as, “Why?” or, “Help me understand that.” Or, “Tell me more.” The simpler and shorter your questions are, the better. Prospects will lose interest if you confuse them.
By asking effective questions, you not only differentiate yourself from the competition by coming off as an expert, but you also begin to understand if your prospect is a good fit for you to actually pursue. Don’t ask just any questions, make sure they fit the criteria above.
What are some of your favorite questions to ask of prospects? Please share below in the comments.
Marc Wayshak is author of the book Game Plan Selling and an expert on sales questions.