Poor sales questions are an easy way to waste hard work. There’s little point uncovering a lead and grabbing their attention enough to hold a conversation if they are instantly turned off by what you say.
Unfortunately, this happens all too often. Far too many salespeople rely on the same, tired questions, which sound generic and rarely spark meaningful conversations.
We’re talking about questions like “What do you want from your service provider?”, “Are you familiar with our products?”
The first is far too broad while the latter can be quickly answered with a simple yes or a no. Instead, salespeople must use direct yet open-ended questions to open prospects up and reveal valuable nuggets of information. Here’s how.
What are the four important questions?
There is no set pattern to open-ended questioning, so it is impossible to offer a template or formula to this technique. However, there are certain common key traits.
First and foremost, this type of questioning should require some thought to answer. You want to engage with prospects rather than firing easy questions at them. If the persons you are talking to have to search for an answer, they are more likely to be immersed in the conversation.
Questions should also focus on emotion rather than objective facts. For example, rather than asking “Do you have home insurance?” you should ask “How happy are you with the service provided by your home insurer?”
But what about those all-important questions? They are simple: Who? What? When? Why?
Who makes the buying decisions? What do they need? When do they need it? Why should they get it from your business?
Keep these considerations in mind when drafting your sales questions, and you’re more likely to have engaging, valuable conversations with your prospects.
How to have valuable conversations with open-ended questions
Sales questions can be loosely grouped into four categories: qualifying, pains, benefits, and objections. Open-ended questions can help you keep the conversation moving in all these areas.
Qualifying: The first thing to do when faced with a cold lead is to qualify the prospect. The tried and tested BANT score will help you here – do they have the budget, do they have the authority, do they need your services, is it the right time to purchase?
When arriving at these answers, be sure to steer away from closed questions such as “Are you the decision-maker?”. Instead, ask “Who makes the buying decisions at your organisation?” Similarly, don’t ask “Are you looking to purchase soon?” Instead ask “When do you think you may need our services?”.
Pains: When assessing potential pain points, the same rules apply. Don’t back your prospects into a corner by second-guessing the problems they may face. Instead invite them to open up, and ask questions such as “What problems are you looking to solve?” or “What’s preventing you from achieving your goals?”
Be sure when drafting these questions that you only invite discussions about problems that your offering can solve.
Benefits: Benefit-led questioning is key to any sale. Here, you should be looking to uncover what areas of your offering are most valuable to the prospect. Naturally, this type of question should be written with your key selling points in mind.
If your service is faster or cheaper than your competitors’, then focus your questions on price and speed, for example.
Objections: Every salesperson will face objections, but there’s no reason why this has to be the end of the conversation.
If a prospect says they are not interested or does not currently have a budget, ask when that situation is likely to change. If they need input from a more senior member of the team, ask who else is involved in the decision-making process, or if there is another person you should talk to.
When facing objections, the goal is always to extract as much valuable information as possible before the conversation ends. The lead may be cold for now, but the more detail you get, the more likely it can be warmed up in the future.
Whatever stage of the funnel your conversation, the goal should always be to get prospects talking. The more you can open them up about their business, their challenges, their decision-making process, the more you can tailor your sales approach.
Open questions are the best way to do this. But they are not 100% effective. Sometimes a prospect will shut down any line of questioning, expansive or not. In this case, stop with the questions and start with the statements.
For example, “Do you have a requirement for X?” becomes “I notice you have a requirement for X”. This approach causes the other party to ask themselves the question and gives them a feeling of control over the conversation.
Take your business further with Business Incorporation Zone
When it comes to growing your business, there’s no substitute for selling. A great sales team can be the difference between success and failure. And the questions and techniques above can be the difference between a long and fruitful conversation and a dial tone.
Here at Business Incorporation Zone (BIZ), we know all about growth – with years of experience helping businesses flourish through startup and beyond.
We are a team of company registration professionals who are passionate about bringing the dreams of aspiring entrepreneurs and SMEs to life.
As well as handling trade license applications, BIZ can also assist with the opening of corporate bank accounts and advise on the most appropriate financial institution to suit your specific needs.
We also offer visa and immigration services and can handle all government formalities, permissions, work permits, and visas applications required to trade in the UAE.
In short, our experts can establish your company on your behalf, make your license and visa applications, and take care of all the necessary admin – leaving you free to get on with running your business.