14 March 2006

Handling the sale

One of the simplest approaches to the sale is simply to ask your clients / customers the right questions. They learn more about you from the questions that you ask them, than from any scripted contribution that you might make. Your questions tell your clients the depth of your understanding of your products and services, as well as the level of your understanding of their situation. More importantly, it tells them how much you understand them as people. Asking questions requires confidence and creativity.

Some salespeople believe that questions are intrusive, so they stop themselves from asking ‘too much’. In business this is how we discover where, when, how and to what extent we can help a client. If you do not ask the right questions, then rest assured that someone else will. If your client is comfortable with your questions, then keep asking! As people develop trust in you, they will become increasingly willing to accept intrusive questions. That willingness signals that you are developing the relationship, based on trust and a growing knowledge of each other.

Here are three great questioning approaches:
  • ask for numbers. It is one thing for the client to say that their problem is serious. It’s a lot more valuable if you can get them to quantify the specifics of their situation and it shows that they have a great understanding of their position. More important, you cannot assess the value proposition without the client’s input to the numbers
  • ask why something is important. When a client says something significant, ask him/her why it is important to them. You will learn more about root causes and personal motivators by getting the client to help you to see beyond the obvious facts
  • Ask questions that make your client think out aloud. When a client says, “I’ve never thought about that”, or “I don’t know the answer to that” then you are starting to get somewhere valuable to both of you!

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