There are different types of questions that you can use in a sales or customer service situation. In fact there are many question alternatives and they are used in circumstances that suit. As a sales negotiator it pays to practice your dialogue to draw on these very special skills.
So what question types are there? Try these for starters:
- Open – this question type will be encouraging a detailed answer and not a basic reply.
- Closed – this question type will be used where you want to get a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. This can be quite useful in closing on a critical point of a negotiation.
- Reflective – what you are doing here is asking the other person to tell you more based on a thinking process
- Leading – as the name suggests the concept here is to direct the conversation in a particular way
- Testing – the strategy here is to get feedback from the other person
- Probing – you use this when you want more information in greater detail
- Redirecting – this question type is designed to put the other person on a different point of discussion
So you can use all of these in many different ways. A top salesperson will be well practiced in all of these processes. If you want to improve your dialogue for better sales conversions think about how you can apply all of these concepts with your product or service.
When the customer responds to your questions, listen with all of your senses operating at peak performance. Watch what they do, hear what they say, and listen to their words. A true negotiator blends all of the senses as part of negotiating on a deal or an agreement with clients and prospects.
In sales and in business today, the process of asking questions has almost become a real art. So many times we come up against complex situations and negotiations. Progressing through those matters involves questions. Sometimes we have to be discreet and at other times direct as we question.
It doesn’t matter what client or prospect challenge you have. The skills of questioning will help advance you towards understanding. Ultimately you can get closer to a sale through direct questioning. Good questions are stepping stones to an outcome. They are the tools to use as a professional salesperson today in business.
Good questions allow you to control the negotiation or business situation. You are actually directing the topics and focus of the discussion. Top salespeople do that.
Here are some tips to help you refine your questioning processes in negotiating and client contact:
- When you ask a direct question watch the eyes of the other person as they respond. Are they looking at you as they respond or are they avoiding eye contact? Perhaps they are hiding the real truth of the matter as they respond.
- Look at the angle of their body to you as the other person talks. Are they standing directly toward you or are they standing at an angle?
- Are they breathing normally or are they breathing with greater depth. That could be a sign of anxiety.
- Are they assertive in response or are they vague? Ask deeper questions if they appear to be avoiding the issue or limiting their responses.
- In some cases you can pace your conversation to that of the other person. What you are doing here is matching yourself into their momentum in conversation and negotiation. When you reach their conversational pace the agreement you want is easier to achieve.
- Understand the differences between open and closed questions and when to ask each particular type.
- If you are dealing with a complex or important issue, drill down into an issue with deeper questions. Don’t be afraid to probe where the issue is critical to the negotiation. On critical points you can drill down many times into a question to get a deeper answer.
- Empathise with the other person where appropriate to consolidate on a point of importance. Empathy is a stepping stone in negotiation.
- Repeat back to the other person any critical points in the situation or the discussion. That will help show your complete understanding of their position.
- Agree to take action where points of the discussion are appropriate. Taking action can solve problems quickly.
- Always take notes during or after a critical meeting with important issues being discussed.
In closing on this topic it is worthwhile noting that top sales people are great negotiators. At the centre of it all they know how to ask the right question in the right way.