Blog Date: 4/21/2012
Author: Chris Peterson
Yes, it's that simple - ask questions. From the initial handshake to the closing of the sale, asking questions and never telling the client what they should think or feel will indirectly build all the value you need to win the business.
Take this real-life story as an example:
Years ago I was watching a demonstration given to the management team of my company by an infrared sensor company. At the time, I was VP of Sales for a thermal imaging camera manufacturer. The goal of the demo was to persuade us to change providers and begin to use their sensors in our cameras. Everything was going perfectly - the image that was illustrated on the screen was beautiful, the maintenance concerns we had were overcome, and the pricing was competitive - then the salesperson started talking. He started telling us how crisp and dominant the image was: 'this is the best image on the market, by far', 'look at how sharp the contrast is'.
Result: we never worked with them again (and the image really was very sharp).
Think about this fact of human nature for just one minute after reading it:
Decision-makers are usually intelligent and/or competitive people. Intelligent, competitive people don't like to be told how they should feel. In fact, they usually will challenge anything that is boldly told to them. Intelligent, competitive people must convince and tell themselves how they feel.
If the salesperson in the above example would have simply asked: 'what do you think?' or 'how does this image compare with your needs?' he would have gone to the next step of the sales cycle and at least had a chance to compete.
Asking questions is the most important activity in building the value of your offering. However it is very important to ask the right questions of the right people at the right time.