One major challenge facing sales forces is the ability to ask the right questions of potential clients. This is where insight-based questions come into play as opposed to generic questions. Knowing what, how and when to ask important questions is the beginning of sales wisdom, which is a unique soft skill that can increase your effectiveness on a sales team.
Selling to potential clients becomes more difficult when the customer already understands her problems. Your job as a salesperson is to highlight dilemmas the other side cannot foresee. Generic questions confirm what the customer already knows because the answers show how your product can help clients. Insight-based questions have more depth because they require a keen understanding of the risks of the status quo.
Status quo, in this case, means the standard way of doing things within the customer's company. Insight-based questions show potential clients that the risks of their own status quo are greater than the risks of change. How should companies change? They should alter the way they do things thanks to the products or services your company provides.
Sales wisdom means reaching beyond redundant information the client already knows. Potential customers already understand some of the problems that await them, the cost of what you sell and the technology behind it. The best sales teams add value to the presentation. Asking about problems, pricing and technology involves generic questions that provide customers very little in the way of extra information.
Insight-based questions get clients thinking about what they did not come up with on their own, and these questions bring trust to the conversation. This acute discernment is how you add value to your product before the client buys your product, but you need to know how to ask the right questions first.
Training Sales Staff
Sales staff need to realize how to formulate insight-based questions before a sales presentation. Training them to memorize a list of dozens of questions does not do any good because they might lose themselves in trying to come up with the right questions as opposed to listening to what customers say during a presentation. Instead of memorizing a ton of questions, sales staff should know the answers. Each answer then generates several questions.
Even better, the answers all point to how your products and services add value to clients. This doesn't mean memorize a list of answers; it means remember the story behind how your products and services help customers. The facts and statistics within the story come naturally when you place them in the context of efficiency, cost savings and making your customers better at what they do.
Insight-based questions take a big-picture view of how your products fit into what a customer requires before the client even knows it needs what you sell. When you bring up these questions in a presentation, customers see the light and understand your product solves a very important problem.
Photo courtesy of Ryan Van Etten at Flickr.com
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