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.

Changing the Focus of Your Sales Team for the Right Reasons

When it comes to developing a sales team there are some real challenges in getting old habits out of the way and new patterns of work established.  Old habits in a sales team take significant effort to reprogram and reposition.  That is the job of the Sales Manager or Team Leader.

Many salespeople may not feel that they have a performance problem and they have been doing the same good things for years.  ‘So why should they do something new’, they say.  With limited thinking and old habits, a business will go nowhere fast.

The reality of the matter is that many sales teams need to adjust their focus and their actions regularly.  The selling season is real and unique to all product types, customers and services.  The selling team just have to adjust.

So what are the key issues in the selling season for your business?  Try some of these:

  1. Lead time for the orders for your clients
  2. Supply of goods from your main factory or central supply source
  3. Pressures on your clients manufacturing or supply
  4. Economic changes in the regional or local economy
  5. Changes to infrastructure
  6. Changes to transport and delivery corridors
  7. Impact on technology for you and your clients

An open and questioning mind will help your sales team adjust to the aspects of the market and the clients business.  The market and technology is changing so fast that the market and your business this year will not be the same next year.  Help your client move through this change.

Improve your services to all of your clients in small increments; that will allow you to consolidate the change in a meaningful way.