Monthly Archives: September 2018

Digging Deep – The Power of the Right Questions

Digging Deep – The Power of the Right Questions


Many salespeople invest significant time and energy refining how well they can persuade their customers in order to make a sale.  In fact, it isn’t force or charisma that convinces customers to buy – it is helping the customer be internally convinced him/herself by asking the ‘right’ questions.

What do we mean by the “right” questions? First, avoid questions that are too shallow or too broad. Asking, “What types of services do you provide?” is not only ineffective, but also insulting, because the salesperson should already know this. Also, avoid questions that have a simple “yes” or “no” answer – “If the price were within your budget, would you consider our product?” These are not ‘thought-provoking’ or ‘meaningful,’ which is where you should focus:

To create a meaningful conversation with your client, try these three guidelines:

  1. Use a 1-10 scale followed by, “Tell me more:” “On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “not at all,” and 10 being, “very much,” how important is the value of innovation to your company?  Tell me more about that.”
  2. Ask 3 “Why” questions to probe deeper into the customer’s issue: “Why do you think your company is having this issue?” “Why do you feel that this change is problematic?” “Why is frugality such a strong value for your company?” Digging deeper can clarify the root cause of an issue or problem, which ultimately you will be able to sell to.
  3. After building trust, try a consequence question: “If your company continues to purchase replacement parts at an increasing rate, what will be the consequence or impact to your business?”

A final tip: remember that it is OK to respectfully pause your customer and say, “You just said something interesting. May I ask you a question about that?” Do this, and you will come across as a trusted advisor, who is genuinely invested in the customer’s world and the implications of what the customer wants to do. Remember – the more the sales person talks, the more the customer objects, but the more the customer talks, the more the customer will likely buy!


Think About It!


Value Drivers: Behind the wheel of your sale –

It is painfully obvious to sales professionals when their pitch is engaging the customer, and when it is falling flat.  To create meaningful conversation around your products and services, be aware of your customer’s “value drivers.” Value drivers are what the customer considers to be most important; those important concerns direct the aspects of a sale that will speak to the customer’s needs, and which will seem trivial and beside-the-point.

Imagine that you are working for a paint brand with several brick and mortar stores in a geographical region. You get a wide variety of customers, and they all have different reasons for wanting to purchase your paint:

  • Performance – A chemist has been a loyal customer ever since you shared data from a stress test of your paint’s superior durability in hurricane conditions.
  • Financial – A thrifty young couple flips houses for a living and was sold on your brand’s loyalty discount program that saves them more money with each bulk purchase.
  • Service – You know that by asking local independent hardware stores to carry your paint, you have increased your customer base by allowing them to shorten the drive to buy your product.
  • Image – A local interior designer has decided to advertise her exclusive use of your paint brand because it is formulated to be more eco-friendly, and this brand recognition enhances her business’
  • Relationship – Finally, a contractor has relied on the expertise of your sales personnel to advise him on projects for over seven years.

This approach to selling VALUE applies whether your are selling paint, or a multi-million dollar solution.

To sell effectively, you must be able to quickly identify the value drivers being expressed by your customers in conversation, and then highlight the features and benefits of your products and services that speak to that value!

Think about it!