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Every time we work with our sales training clients in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto, we learn something new. Each group of Salespeople is unique. What they manage to find most useful from our sales training is always different. Our latest client has discovered great success with my favorite open-ended question. Make these three words part of your client needs analysis and watch your sales increase in 2017.
Open-ended questions cause people to open up and provide more detail and information. They are at the very heart of needs-based consultative selling and they allow decision makers to provide more detail and clarity on what they’re experiencing. Every great Salesperson knows they need to find the pain in the buyer’s world to be able to provide the solution.
Great open-ended questions not only provide surface level information that lead to finding a customer’s needs, they go further to find the buyer’s feelings. Feelings are the basis of all decision making. Logic is the justification of the decision. Take note how the discovery process goes deeper with more focused open-ended questions.
What do you like most about your current car?
Based on your family, what features would do you need to have in your new house and why?
What does your current supplier do well and what could they improve upon?
Most Salespeople define a closed-ended question as one that allows for a yes or no answer. That’s one of the best examples of a closed-ended question. They are questions that need a short, quick answer – a choice between two options. Here’s a few examples.
If there was one thing that you wish your current car had, what would it be?
Is a two story or a bungalow better for you?
Would you be open to seeing a proposal from us?
Great Salespeople start their discovery process by asking decision makers many open-ended questions. As they gain understanding, their client becomes comfortable with the exchange of information. Rapport builds into confidence and leads to trust. Smart Salespeople then ask a series of closed-ended questions to determine the direction the client wishes to take. Inexperienced Salespeople tend to ask questions in the opposite order. They start with closed-ended questions to poke around to try find the client’s needs. We all know what this feels like as a buyer. Here’s typically what it sounds like.
Salesperson: Which of these cars is better for you?
Customer: Neither actually.
Salesperson: Why would that be?
Customer: Because they make no sense for me. They’re impractical. They’re both two doors and we have two kids.
Salesperson: Oh, you didn’t mention you had a family.
Customer: You didn’t ask.
While most Salespeople would never conduct themselves like this, unfortunately we’ve all had bad experiences with a Salesperson who is more focused on making a sale than helping a buyer make the right purchase.
Of all the great open-ended questions, here’s my favorite that has been adopted by many Salespeople. It starts with three words – Tell me more. The power of those three words always results in further elaboration. Decision makers explain the basis of their thoughts and provide you with greater understanding of what they’re experiencing.
Salesperson: Tell me more about your current car – what do you like about and what do you wish it had?
Customer: We’ve had our Honda Civic for five years. It’s been a great car in many ways – reliable, great on gas. It never let us down. With a new baby on the way, we need the same kind of car, just bigger.
Salesperson: Tell me more about the next house you buy.
Customer: It must be a larger family home. At least three bedrooms and maybe a fourth in the basement. We have two kids and one is starting high school. He gets the basement.
Salesperson: Tell me more about your current supplier.
Customer: They do an OK job. We’ve been dealing with them for many years. Our original Salesperson was excellent, but she left and our new Salesperson just doesn’t seem to have the same commitment. He’s not bad – he’s just not as detailed as the first. Frankly, she probably spoiled us.
Tell me more gives the buyer the opportunity to reveal what’s most important to them without you having to ask specific closed-ended questions to get the same quality of information. It opens dialogue on a level that allows great Salespeople to truly find the most significant needs of the buyer. Tell me more also sets the right level of talking and listening in the discovery process.
The best Salespeople develop strong, trusted relationship based on their sincerity and authenticity in meeting the customer’s needs. That’s their trademark.
What do you think? We’re always interested in hearing your opinion in the comments section below. If you liked this post, share it on your favorite social media platform.
Great sales techniques like this one are taught in our online sales training program The Sales Skills Incubator and our book SHUT UP! Stop Talking and Start Making Money. Click the links and start making more sales today!
Dave Warawa – PROSALESGUY