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TCFP182: How to fix the mistake most salespeople are making

You can't leave your sales process up to chance. If you lead sales reps, one of the greatest gifts you can give them is the skill of asking the right questions during the discovery phase. Asking the right questions during a discovery call will allow you to uncover pain, understand the decision-making process, and clarify buying motives. In today's episode, we'll discuss the benefits of open-ended questions and how to use them to accomplish three different goals.


Benefits of Open-Ended Questions

1. Asking open-ended sales questions builds trust

Curiosity demonstrates to your potential clients that you care about what they have to say. Your questions open the door for them to tell you their concerns and what they're looking for in a product or service.


2. Open-ended questions allow the prospect to engage.

Building rapport makes it easy for prospects to tell you the information that will help you close the sale. Using this technique, you remove yourself from the outdated, product-driven language that drives potential buyers away by choosing to talk instead about what matters most to your buyers. Instead of a one-sided sales pitch or product demo, today's buyers are looking for a dynamic dialogue.


3. Gives you more insights and data

Open-ended questions extend the dialogue. You will get more thoughtful and detailed answers that would not have been possible by asking closed-ended questions. You might learn some unexpected details that affect the scope and timeline of the project. These details may even determine whether or not the prospect is qualified and a good fit for your products or services. As opposed to a conversation cut short by "yes" and "no" dead-ends, an extended discussion is an excellent sign that the prospect is engaged and is willing to trust you.


Q: How well do you think you utilize open-ended questions? What else can you do to help generate trust in a sales conversation? Do you believe there is such a thing as too many questions? Why or why not?


Sample Open-Ended Questions:

Rapport building questions

1. What will make this appointment worthwhile for you today?

This open-ended question is a good conversation starter that focuses on the prospect's needs first. It's non-threatening and sets the tone for the rest of the call. Another advantage is that it instantly sets you apart from other sales reps throwing out pitches right out the gate.


2. What motivated you to take this call with me?

This question helps you learn what the prospect is facing and where their top priority or pain point lies. It also allows prospects to include additional details they may have omitted.


Discovery questions

What is preventing you from reaching your objectives?

After asking the rapport-building questions, you'll want to start digging deeper into the roadblocks preventing them from reaching their goals. It could be budget, lack of resources, time constraints, or something else. Whatever it may be, sales reps need to be aware of their prospects' roadblocks.


What have I not covered that you would like to know more about?

Sometimes salespeople get so mission-focused that they fail to ask questions that are important to the prospect. You may have forgotten to cover some essential points. This is a good stopping point to let your prospect ask you some questions and ensure they are being served well.


Addressing Concerns

What concerns do you have about making a change?

It is common for prospects to have unaddressed concerns about making internal changes to integrate your product or solution. Asking them about those concerns will help them air them out, build trust, deepen rapport, and give you insights on potential roadblocks to address before and during the implementation process.


Q: What other open-ended questions have you found helpful? Which of these types of open-ended conversations do you want to include more in your sales calls? Why?


Application Activities

  1. Practice selling your product to a co-worker, friend, or mentor. Ask them to pay special attention to the kinds of questions you ask so that you can become aware of where you can improve.

  2. Practice being curious by asking more questions. Often leaders can be so busy they take in new information and run with it. The next time you come across some new information, slow down and take the time to be curious. Aim to ask three questions about what you just learned. You can do this exercise at work or during casual conversations with friends.

  3. Apply this trick to your next one-on-one. Instead of just talking about goals or strategies, focus on asking questions. For example, instead of saying, "Are you on track with the project?" Try asking, "What areas of the project could you use more support?" or "What additional information would help you make this project the best it can be?"

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