Knowing about your product or service isn’t enough anymore to sell effectively, you need to know the right questions to ask.
Have you ever answered a question with a question? Asking questions not only increases your conversion rate, but builds rapport with your customer and ensures that the sale becomes their idea and not yours.
Asking questions also means active listening. You can ask questions about your customers work, business, kids or hobbies but make sure that you are listening with sincere interest. It may even be helpful to note down some of the answers – such as the names of their kids, interests, etc, for future communication. By asking questions and listening, you are building rapport and attaching importance to their conversation. If your typical sale is over a coffee meeting, try drinking your coffee before they have a couple of sips… this will be a measure of how much talking you are doing.
By asking questions you also remain in control of the conversation. If you find yourself doing all the talking you are no longer in control. Just remember that the person asking questions sets the direction for the conversation. If the customer is dominating the conversation by asking you questions make sure you answer the question with a question. However, try to vary the questions that you ask. You may remember from looking after your own children or babysitting that being asked “but why?” over and over again tends to get a little monotonous.
Questions can guide consumer interest, discover a need and give accurate information. There are two commonly known types of questioning – open ended and closed questions.
Open-ended questions are an excellent way to ensure customer involvement in the conversation and are key to identifying not only what they need but a lot about themselves. You can use open-ended questions to build rapport, to find a need, to discover a customer problem and find the right solution. In journalism there are six key questions used in the interviewing process which is as equally useful in sales – who, what, where, when, why and how.
Here are a few example of open-ended questions which are very useful:
- Who are you buying the product/service for?
- How often would you use the product/service?
- What features were you looking for in this product/service?
This type of questioning yields a lot of great information from your customer and helps you determine which product/service is uniquely suited to them.
Closed questions tend to get one word answers ‘yes’ or ‘no’. They can be used to gather information quickly – not unlike a check-list. Using closed questions can also confirm a buying detail and help confirm the sale.
By using questions you are encouraging the customer to communicate, building rapport, establishing their needs, directing the conversation, diffusing tension and inviting discussion.
Learning the art of questioning and listening is the key to increasing your conversion rate and well on the way to creating a continuing customer relationship. I suggest you take some time out to sit and think of a number of questions that will help you identify what your customer “wants or needs”, so that you are prepared rather than just thinking on your feet.