Being a VP of Sales, you’d think sales people approaching me to sell something would bring their “A game.” Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. I will often talk to these folks, usually just to hear how other companies pitch their products. And way too often – I get the stupid questions thrown my way. Let me give you a few examples from some recent conversations:
“Are you the person in charge of the sales team?”
“What does your company sell?”
“Do you have any problems with your team?”
“Do you handle operations? No? Who does?”
“Can I give you a short 60-minute presentation?”
Jeffrey Gitomer has more examples of dumb questions here.
Good questions are THE defining difference between average and great sales people. The more time you put into preparing good questions, the better off your sales call will go – ultimately resulting in a better relationship with that customer.
Good sales people use questions to:
- Develop a deeper understanding of a customer’s needs and wants
- Demonstrate credibility by showing basic understanding of the business
- Move the conversation in a direction that leads to a desirable outcome for both parties
Bad sales people use questions to:
- Understand people/roles that they should have already known
- Teach themselves about industry trends that are common knowledge
- Drive a customer to a product/service, irregardless of need
Before you walk into that next call, take some time and be prepared. Think about the call before you pick up the phone or drive across town. What do you know? What can you find out? What questions do you need answers to? Build a list of questions to ask in your meeting.
Then, put yourself in the shoes of your customer and ask … “Would I talk to me?” If the answer is no, go back to work.
“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” – Mark Twain