By: David Jacoby on April 12th, 2022
4 Reasons Why Asking Questions Will Improve Your Sales Calls
Asking great questions is foundational to consultative selling, but for many sales reps, this is easier said than done.
Here’s the problem: when you meet with a buyer, it's common to start thinking of your solution first. This is what you want to sell, so it's only natural that it's top of mind for you during an initial sales call. The pitfall of this approach is that it creates a “product-centric” versus a "buyer-centric" discussion, early in the sales process.
Here are four reasons why asking questions will help you have better sales calls.
Reason #1: Uncover hidden needs
Early in the sales process, your buyer may not know they have a problem or have incorrect preconceived ideas about their issue.
This is when you should ask for subjective information about the buyer’s perceptions, opinions, and feelings. What are their top challenges? Why is that a problem? How does that affect them directly? These questions are inherently powerful since they focus the conversation on the buyer’s problems or goals, not your solution.
Your buyer now has an opportunity to talk about their feelings, concerns, and goals, and this is when you can uncover or diagnose problems that may not be obvious to the buyer at first.
Reason #2: Differentiate yourself as a consultant
Asking thought-provoking impactful questions is an essential first step to differentiating yourself as a consultant, not just another salesperson.
The process of asking questions such as “What are the consequences of…?” Or, “Why is it important to solve this problem?” helps the buyer think through problems. And that positions you “on the same side of the table” as the buyer as you help them think through the complexities they face. The buyer begins to trust you more and looks to you for advice.
Asking these questions puts you in the role of a problem solver, not a salesperson, which is the essence of consultative selling.
Reason #3: Create Urgency
Problems in and of themselves are not enough for buyers to act.
The problem must be explored and developed to build a sense of urgency before a buyer commits to acting. Sales professionals do this by helping buyers see the full consequences or ramifications of the problem. Who else is being impacted by the problem? What does it cost the organization? What would be the impact of not solving this problem? These questions help create urgency because the buyer is now considering the overall scale and reach of the issues at hand.
When buyers discover consequences on their own (by thinking about your questions), they're much more likely to act than if they are being sold to by the sales professional.
Reason #4: Help the buyer sell it internally
At some point in your buyer’s journey, they may need to sell your solution to the key decision-makers internally.
This is when you should ask questions that encourage the buyer to think about the benefits of solving the problem. What would it mean to their bottom line? What aspects of improving efficiency will have the biggest payback? Or, how would this solution help other areas of the business?
These questions can help the buyer develop the arguments they need to move your solution through their own internal buying process.
The key to having productive sales calls is to ask great questions as this focuses the conversation on the buyer’s problems, not your solutions. And this makes selling much easier.
About David Jacoby
As a Managing Director at Sales Readiness Group, David helps large B2B sales organizations improve sales performance. Previously, David was a Principal at Linear Partners, a sales consulting firm providing sales strategy, sales operations, talent management, and interim management services to emerging growth companies. In the past, David has served as Vice President of Business Affairs of Xylo, Inc., where he was responsible for the Company's business development, sales operations, legal affairs, and financing activities.