As a salesperson, you want to – nay, you need to – engage with prospects. The problem is that many go about this process in completely the wrong way. Most salespeople, in an attempt to quickly establish rapport, will ask innocuous personal questions: “Do you play golf?” “Do you like fishing?”
At some point, you may have conversations with your buyer that include those exact questions. But if you’re looking to boost sales results, that kind of banter should be saved for later. So should talking endlessly (and usually aimlessly) about yourself. Instead, ask provocative questions about your buyer’s opinion regarding the business at hand. Here are some B2B examples:
- “How will the recent drought in the Southwest affect your expansion plans?”
- “Will the bankruptcy filing of your competitor’s transportation unit have any consequences for your organization?”
- “How might the new financial regulatory reform impact your business?”
- “Will the continued elimination of land-line phones in favor of mobile phones alter your marketing campaigns?”
- “How will the closing of the London office impact your division?”
- “What do you like about what’s going on right now in your industry (or your organization)?”
- “What would you change if you could?”
Note that these questions can be categorized as either current events or related to competition, government regulation, social trends, organizational issues or experience. With a little intellectual effort, you can apply the same model to retail sales. As you might suspect, I’ll provide examples about selling motorcycles.
- “Do you think we’ll ever see ‘green’ motorcycles? You know, environmentally friendly bikes? (Not ones that are actually green.)”
- “Have you seen the new model the other guys just introduced?”
- “Would you endorse hands-free mobile devices for motorcyclists?”
- “Have you been to our newest location on the north side of town?”
- “What do you like about our dealership?”
- “What do you wish we would do differently?”
These questions will do more to accsellerate your sales than any personal questions about golf, or fishing or family vacations.
First of all, these probing, thought-provoking inquiries provide you with important details about what your prospective buyer is thinking and how you might be able to help him make up his mind. But even more importantly, they make the buyer think more highly of you, because you’ve asked questions that were out of the ordinary, questions that prove you know what’s going on in the industry and the world.
They probably will boost your credibility, too, because you’re asking for buyers’ opinions – a strategy that suggests their opinion is most important, not yours. After all, if you’ve got the good sense to ask for my opinion, I can’t help but like you. It’s as immutable as the law of gravity.