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. (NB – you can get plenty of commercial real estate negotiation tips right here in Snapshot right here – its free)

Negotiation Questions for Brokerage

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.

Qualifying Questions and Sales Strategies

When you first approach a prospective client you never really know where the conversation will head, or if they have a need or an interest in your offering.  This is particularly the case when it comes to cold calling and basic drop in canvassing.

For this very reason you need to be very flexible and conversational in getting the connection going.  If you sell a service as opposed to a product, it is better to be biased towards building trust before you get to the real point of the approach.  In a few words I can summarise this as ‘reducing the pressure’.

In business today, most clients and prospects do not like to be ‘sold or closed’.  The days of manipulative selling are well gone.  Information and trust are the keys to moving the conversation forward.  Today, it could be called ‘relationship’ selling.  As to how long the relationship should be, really depends on the product and the service that you offer; the relationship required can be from a few minutes to months or even years.

Get to the Facts

To qualify a client or prospect you need to know the right things relative to their business or personal situation.  Here are a few tips to do that:

  1. Check to see if you are talking with the decision maker.  There is no point talking with a person that has no relevance to your product or service.  Asking questions will help you here.
  2. Find out what the prospect has now or if they have used similar products or services over the years.  Do they actually understand what you are about to talk about?  This is really important in a complex product or service offering.
  3. If the prospect has used that product or service before, was it helpful in their business or personal life?  Working from a base of previous experience will help you connect with the situation for them today.  Be aware that the situation may have changed for them; there is no point selling a concept, product or service if they have a changed business situation or circumstances.
  4. Could the prospect see the same solution occurring again or will it be helpful for them today or in the future?  Previous experiences that the client may have had with your product or service help you relating to the situation today.

These questions will lead you to information that can help you proceed with moving the conversation forward.  From all of these concepts, take the time to really listen to the facts and responses from the other person.

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.