The three most important questions, and two additional follow up question, in a sales call.
I have now come to the point where I want to share with you how I see it considering how to open and get ahead in the sales calls. I mean in all seriousness, for me it really only takes 3 questions and two follow-up question to get to a conclusion, a sell, or a continuation with the customer. This is my own experience, and I noticed the strong impact these questions have, and they also show that the interest of the customer is crucial.
How has it been?
- The question you ask has to do with the history, the way it has been until today. By showing the customer a sincere interest in how it has been and ask to know about the history, you will win the confidence and show commitment to the customer and his business.
- Of course you can and you should ask follow-up questions so that you get the right information so that you can understand better and get a better picture of the client and its business.
- Do you feel safe and secure, you can always with ease round out the supplementary questions by asking what challenges / problems there has been that may have contributed to how it looks today.
How is it today?
- This question shows that you have an interest in finding out how it is today. Again you show an interest in the customer and the business in a completely safe area. You are simply interested in the current situation.
- You can and you should also ask follow-up questions, in the sense so you better understand the client’s situation. Get as much information simply so that you can move on.
- Same here, do you feel comfortable in the situation, set more problems and consequence questions. How is it affecting the business?
How do you want it to be in the future?
- With this question shows you interest from the customer wants in the future. You are interested in getting information on how to proceed and what their desired future looks. Again, an open and situation related questions that only shows your commitment and interest to get information about how and what the customer and his business plans looks for the future.
- Obviously, set follow-up questions to clarify any questions you have and to get a clearer picture of the future customer.
- Of course, with the confidence you have, set the consequence and impact questions. But to make these, your confidence is important.
Then comes the most interesting, and it’s the follow-up questions that breaks new ground and that will keep you going on and can finally offer the customer a solution where you both win, namely:
Is there anything else I need to know?
- This is just a follow up question, so you know that you understood everything correctly, and if there is anything more the client want to add.
Question five, or the follow up question:
How can I be a part of this future, what is required of me to take part of this?
- You add up and summarize what you heard and see if you understand the whole picture of the information provided.
- You ask nicely if you can be the solution or part of it, would it be interesting for the customer?
- You present a proposal, a solution, which shows that if you and your solution would mean a better future for the customer and the business, would it be something to build on.
- To summarize again, past, present and future, gives a recipe for how this would work and hold out your hand for an acceptance. The famous hand shake!
I know with certainty that this works, I have done it and completed it, and I can show results that it works in 90% of your meetings. You do not even need to have the best product knowledge of what you have to present, the important thing is your genuine interest in the customer and that you want to create a partnership. You are interested in your common goal to work together to create success, the products, services, or whatever you offer is secondary. Knowledge is always something you can get from the, “back office”, technical assistance or support through the company. What is important for you is to create a relationship based on mutual understanding and mutual respect. What should drive you forward is the future, the solution and the key to it, and what it can give the customer, the advantage.
The following example I can give to you on this:
“January 2014, I was employed by a German company to boost sales and develop the business, in garden ponds, fish ponds and pumps, fountains and other products in this field. I can honestly say that my knowledge of the ponds is very limited. Dig a hole, put some liner, fill with water, install a pump, there you are. I live in an apartment, and even though I lived in a villa with a garden, so has my interest in ponds been somewhat mediocre. I have always thought that water solutions and water has a soothing way, but that’s about all.
After a training and product briefing at the company, what pretty much went in one ear and out the other, it was time to get down to the sales process. I decided at an early stage not to focus on products but instead focus the above questions. I concentrated on building a relationship with the customer, to build trust and confidence. The important thing for me was to explore the possibility of building a future together. Building a relationship and deepening it, cultivate it and close it.
I always began each meeting, and still do to inform that my skills are somewhat limited, but I’m interested in a future together and what the solution may be to give the customer the advantage, and then I ask the questions.
In retrospect, nine months later, I could demonstrate a sales increase of at least 40% and still in progress. It is the best result the company has had in 5 years. Understand then that the questions I asked above, is the main key, all to be done. “
Most effective is the course if it is your first meeting, but it works just as well if you already have a customer and want to introduce a new product, a new solution and a form for you to build on and strengthen the cooperation.
Questions are your tools, attitude and the approach your foundation, and the genuine customer / human interest your strength.