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What's the real reason salespeople need to ask questions?

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 1/14/16 1:30 PM

To customize their pitch?

To diagnose a problem properly?

To recommend the right solution?

To find out who the decision maker is?

To make sure they understand the buyer?

To challenge how they think about their problem?

To make the buyer feel that they understand them and their world?

Yes to all of the above, but it is the last one that is the real reason. Why is it the most important?


Until a salesperson understands the compelling reason for a buyer to change their status quo, nothing happens. And that compelling reason is personal, very personal. It might be their legacy, their kids college education, the bigger house for their spouse, or the security of their job. It’s something they hold close to their hearts and fiercely protect. Why the heck would they tell you that?

And they won’t, not until they know that you get them, that you are on their side, and that you want to, and can, help them. People buy from people, not companies. Companies don’t care about them, people who are like them do. Are the questions you ask only so that you can diagnose a problem, or do they show people that you understand? That you have no only the product expertise, but that you get their role and challenges. Are you a part of their tribe?

While talking with a coaching client this week they sent this agenda: It was an excellent call, by most measures. Good questions / listening etc - her doing most of the talking. She thanked me for my guidance and insight - and I didn't really say anything.

One area that I would like to discuss - and this is the agenda for today - we got to a point where she essentially said that data / quant analysis is something that she needs to differentiate herself from her peers (and she pointed out that she could get that from us. From that point, I said something to the effect of 'ok, so where do we go from here?'

I want to talk through the path to take from that point.”

We suggested he ask questions like “How would you be differentiated?” “Why does that matter to your client?” “So, how would being differentiated benefit you?” 

We also asked, “Do you feel that you understand her world and what is happening?” To which he said yes, more so than other calls I have been on. Great! “Does she feel like you understand her world? What happens if they do nothing? What is her personal reason for wanting to change the way they do things?”

Remember it’s not about you. Of course it is important that you understand, but it is even more important that they know you do. Only then will they feel comfortable and confident enough to reveal what is closest to their hearts.

The first question to be answered during the sales process is “Do they have a problem I can solve?” (Do you understand?) The second is “Do they know it?” For the remaining 6 questions you need to answer during your sales process, download the Unbound Growth Roadmap.

Get the Unbound Roadmap.

Topics: sales