Sales qualification is a game of questions. Unless you ask the right questions, you won’t uncover the right problems to solve. If you don’t solve the right problems, your buyer will never see value in your solution. Broad, open-ended sales questions are a good starting point. They put your prospect at ease and are a non-threatening way to begin. But there’s an art to asking probing questions. Remember, you’re a liaison between your company and your customers; you are a consultant. So question your prospect in a way that will yield the maximum amount of information for you to build a case credibly for your solution set. All this without you sounding like an investigative journalist.
The better you are at asking the right questions, the better you become at uncovering needs.Listen to what your prospect says and what they omit. Both will suggest areas to explore in greater depth, such as, “Could you tell me more about how long sales cycles impact your bottom line?” Keep your questions simple. Avoid asking two-part questions. Ask straightforward questions that cover one topic at a time. Good transitions are a crucial skill in a salesperson’s conversational arsenal. If you veer from, “How have you tried to solve this problem in the past?” to “And what’s your budget for this?”, you risk giving your prospect whiplash at how quickly you took the conversation from their pain points to your budget, also bringing the conversation too soon to the pricing debate. Instead, work on a transition question. It keeps them feeling supported while giving you the information you need to qualify and progress the opportunity. Here’s my top ten that has worked well for me, try these out:
- You specialise in X. Why did you choose that niche?
- What are your goals for the next 6 to 12 months?
- What would be your top three initiatives for 2023 wrt to improving sales productivity?
- How does your company evaluate new products or services before buying?
- In your experience, does this lead to other bigger problems?
- Tell me about your average day. How would this solution impact your daily work?
- What’s holding your team back from reaching your goals?
- Was budget a barrier in solving this problem previously?
- Why is this a priority for you now?
- Who else will be involved in the decision making process? Is there anyone else you think we should speak with?
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