Questioning Tips for Top Salespeople

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:

  1. Open – this question type will be encouraging a detailed answer and not a basic reply.
  2. 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.
  3. Reflective – what you are doing here is asking the other person to tell you more based on a thinking process
  4. Leading – as the name suggests the concept here is to direct the conversation in a particular way
  5. Testing – the strategy here is to get feedback from the other person
  6. Probing – you use this when you want more information in greater detail
  7. 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.

Questioning Techniques in Negotiation and Selling

When you are in a sales situation or a negotiation, the power of questions should not be underestimated.  Questions will help you move the other person through problems, and in many cases they will answer the negotiation challenge themselves.

The questioning process is called the ‘Freudian Slip’ and is used by many good salespeople.  It operates on the premise that most people want to reach an agreement, and if you ask them enough questions, they will tell you the answer to the problem and perhaps even give themselves a solution.

It should be said that the questions that you ask should be ‘open’ and not ‘closed’ questions.  You can use the words like:

  • How will you
  • What will you
  • When would you
  • Would you
  • Should you

The one word that you cannot use is ‘Why’, and the question content that follows it.  The reason being is that it is a challenging approach that threatens the conversation flow; it is too probing and threatening.  The use of ‘Why’ is judgemental and can break the trust that you are creating in the conversation.

When you ask the right questions you get answers that can help you and the client move to a solution.  In most cases a sale is not made by you talking, rather it is made by you listening to the answers that you get.

One More Idea

As you ask the prospect or client questions, the answers that you get should be drilled down into and questioned further.  This has two clear benefits:

  • It shows the client or customer that you really are listening and are interested in what they have to say
  • It shows the client that you really understand the complete issue and want all the facts to help their position or negotiation

In some complex sales situations it pays dividends if you take notes during the comments of the other person.  The notes can be used as a reference point to further discussion, however the great advantage that the note taking process offers is that it gives you time to think before you respond.

In any sales negotiation or client presentation, do not do all of the talking.  Give the client lots of opportunities to say things and respond to your ideas and recommendations.  As a general rule, you should talk less and they should talk more.  Even though you are doing a ‘presentation’, the process can be very connecting and create a two way conversation.  Ask the client for comments as you proceed and get their opinion on key matters.  Build the communication at every opportunity.

If you want more tips on sales, negotiation, or closing, you can get them in our Newsletter.