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Self-serving questions: "What do you know about our company?" "Did you get a chance to look over the information I sent you?" "Are there any projects I can quote on?" "How's my pricing?" "Do you have any questions for me?" "Would you like to see a demo?" Although it's important to qualify and gauge a prospect's interest, questions like these can suggest that you are more focused on your own interests than your customer's. Like lazy questions, they can come across as product peddling or poking around for an opportunity instead of focusing on value-added solutions.

Trick questions: "Which one do you want—the red one or the blue one?" "If I could show you a way to save 25 percent on your costs, would you be interested?" Buyers see these questions for what they are—a gimmick to get them to do what you want.

Hostile or aggressive questions. "Didn't you have a plan in place in case of a service outage?" "Why do you continue to invest in a program that hasn't worked?" There's great value in questions that prompt a buyer to rethink old assumptions or consider new information. But questions that are designed to put buyers on the spot or make them feel stupid—especially in front of others—will prompt buyers to disclose less, not more.

A Plan for Better Sales Questions

One of the key reasons that salespeople don't ask better questions is because they lack a plan. Sales conversations can be stressful and a wrong turn can be disastrous. So salespeople often fall back on approaches that seem safe. They ask the usual sales questions in the usual way, as if they're reading them off a list. They hesitate to dig deeper, because then they don't know where the conversation will go. And they're eager to move on to the thing they know best: talking about their products or services.

If you have a plan—a set of tools—you can manage the questioning process with confidence. In the chapters that follow, we primarily focus on six types of questions that are specifically designed for sales. We'll discuss them in greater depth in the chapters that follow, but here's a quick overview:

1. Educational questions. These are questions designed to enlarge a customer's knowledge.

2. Lock-on questions. These are questions that build on what buyers have told you, which allows you to extend the conversation and dig deeper into the issues they face.

3. Impact questions. These are questions designed to explore the impact of challenges that the customer is facing.

4. Expansion questions. These are questions designed to get buyers to enlarge on what they've told you, giving you greater insight into their needs.

5. Comparison questions. These are questions that get buyers to compare one thing to another—an especially useful tool for identifying priorities and for gaining greater clarity.

6. Vision questions. These are questions that invite the buyer to see what they stand to gain, and how you can help them achieve their goals, hopes, and dreams.

Each of these question types is a powerful tool that allows you to engage your buyer on a deep level, while keeping the conversation on track and moving toward a sale. Once you master these six types, they'll become second nature and you'll know how to apply them in virtually any sales situation.

And that leads to one more question: Are you ready to start digging deeper with customers and understanding their truths? If so, let's get started.


Deadly Questions

Are Your Questions Costing You Business, Leaving Money on the Table, and Putting Prospects to Sleep?

YOU PROBABLY ALREADY have a number of questions you ask your clients during a sales call. For example:

* What do you know about our company? * How can we help you? * Whom are you currently working with? * How long have you been with your current vendor? * What do you like about them? * What do you dislike about them? * What's your budget? * What are your goals? * How much are you paying now? * What if I could give you a better solution for a cheaper price? * Would you be interested? * When are you looking to make a change? * Are you the decision maker? * Can I put together a proposal for you? * Are you ready to get started? * May I have your business? * How are we doing? * Any problems?

You may feel good about a meeting during which you've asked these questions. After all, you've garnered lots of useful information about the buyer—what they need, what they're currently using, what they like and don't like. You may feel you've moved the sale forward considerably. In fact, questions like these may be setting you back—because they add no value to the buyer.

There's a term for this kind of interaction: an interrogation.

Imagine yourself sitting in a small room in a police station, while a burly detective pounds you with questions. It's clear what the detective stands to gain from this exchange, but what's in it for you?

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