We know that asking a series of relevant and meaningful business questions is key to uncovering a prospect’s intentions, definition of value, and their compelling reason to buy.
But equally important, is the placement and timing of key questions within the sales process.
For example, a very popular question among salespeople is: “What’s keeping you up at night?”
The timing of this question is very important. If asked at the appropriate time in the relationship, and conversation, it can unveil insightful information around how the prospect’s business issues are impacting them personally. This knowledge can be powerful to know and understand.
(You might enjoy this Harvard Business Review article: “What keeps you up at night?”)
But, leading with a question like that when you don’t have an established relationship? It turns the customer off. It’s irrelevant and utterly out of place, and it comes across as a desperate, cliched sales pitch when asked at the wrong time.
Ultimately, customers want salespeople to bring intelligent insights to the table, help them understand their options and the direction that will be most valuable to them personally and to their organization as a whole. Prospects don’t want to feel as though they are being “sold”.
Questions like, “What keeps you up at night?”, when asked prematurely, make customers’ antennae go up, and not in a good way. “Here comes the ol’ sales pitch!”
The issue of asking the right questions at the right time is one that has a significant impact on moving the needle on sales performance. And, there’s lots of room for improvement as indicated by the followingdata provided by the Objective Management Group:
Taking the concept of timing a step further, here are two excellent questions that elicit concise information that can be further leveraged in the sales process:
In the second example, the salesperson is able to pinpoint an exact time to get started. The sales process is shortened rather than lengthened.
In short, what salespeople really need to get at are questions that assess their customers' needs and timeframe while also asking the questions at the appropriate juncture in the sales process. And, all this needs to take place while maintaining a conversational tone and pace.
If you’re having difficulty getting your team down the path of asking the right questions, give us a call.
Sales management expert Duane Cashin has lead award-winning sales organizations and trained sales teams for companies of all sizes. He’s earned membership in Presidents Club and Circle of Excellence, successfully built and sold his own multi-million-dollar business, and enjoys sharing his passion for sales.