Sales people talk about, and are taught a lot about, open and closed questions. Both are necessary in sales for different purposes, but let’s talk today about a question that is sometimes asked but should ideally be avoided.
What is the purpose of our call first of all? The end result of course will be to sell something, and in order to do that there are a series of smaller gains to make. In order to be heading in the right direction, we need to focus our customer’s thinking in the right direction.
How many times have you been asked if you already have a supplier? “Who does your design for you currently?” or “Who supplies your phone line?” or “What do you regularly buy in stationery terms?” etc. Here we are focusing the prospect on what they do now. How many times has someone asked you that, and you have said “It’s X and we’re really happy with them.” Going down this road is dangerous, because you are leaving success to luck; if you are lucky enough to find someone who on that day, or at that moment, is suddenly unhappy with their X or Y, then you’ve struck gold. But 99% of the time you’re not going to be that lucky and will be left at a dead end.
The direction we want to be going in with our customer’s thinking is really what problem they have. What challenge do they face? What is making their life uncomfortable or problematic? We don’t want to ask about their current suppliers, we want to know what isn’t working for them. Then we can begin to move towards a solution, and ultimately, a sale.
When you ask your sales questions, think carefully about what you want the prospect to start thinking about; it’s this that should inform your questioning.