One thing I have learned from speaking for or working with sales professionals is that you can tell the quality of the sales professional by the questions they to ask. For example, do the questions they inquire challenge their customer’s thinking and push them out of their comfort zone?
Unfortunately, a lot of sales professional don’t. Many of them don’t have what it takes to ask the tough questions. So, why do the hard questions even matter? I mean if the customer is buying from you, and they like you, why do you have to take it further?
Those Pesky Probing Questions
Because those hard, probing questions you ask, help our prospects think about their situation differently and open them up to new ideas and better outcomes. Moreover, that is our job as sales professionals! Our role is not to take orders and do what our customer’s ask. Our purpose is to take them beyond their comfort zone, to solutions and ideas that truly add value and take their companies to another level.
Then why do we avoid the hard questions? Because those same questions that get our prospects to look at new solutions are the same ones that push those prospects that are often change resistant and don’t want to think about new possibilities.
As sales professionals, you are afraid of two things – making your prospects mad and more importantly losing the deal. But believe me, if you don’t ask the tough questions, if you don’t push your prospects, you may get the small sale, but you’ll never build a long-term relationship with them. If you can’t add value, if you can’t help your prospects see new solutions, then you will never gain a competitive advantage.
What do you need to have to be able to ask the hard questions?
Here are the 4 Must Haves Strategies to Be Successful in Your Sales Profession
- Trust – you have to invest in the relationship first and build the bonds that create trust with your prospect. If they trust you, they will open up to you. Give the relationship time to develop before, using those softer questions to give your prospect time to get to know you and trust you.
- Knowledge – you have to understand the industry, your prospect, and sales. If you are going to push a customer, you better know what you are talking about. You need to do your homework, and I think you have to know more about your customer’s company and industry than they do.
- Courage – it takes guts – asking those hard questions is not easy, and you need to be ready for your customers to be uncomfortable or push back. You need to be selling from a place of power, not desperation. If you need the sale, if you do not have other prospects in the pipeline, in fact, if your pipeline is not full, then you will never gain the courage to ask the tough questions. You have to be okay with losing the deal. The irony is, the more you don’t care if you get the deal, the more sales you will land.
- Persistence – and speaking of pushing back, you better be persistent. You may have to ask more than one tough question to get them to open up or to understand their real issues. I think persistence is about caring; you care enough about the success of your prospect’s business, do ask what it takes to help them succeed.
When you combine trust with your industry knowledge, it positions you to ask the tough questions. When you ask the tough sales questions, you have what it takes to add real value to the customer relationship.
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