Ask targeted questions and you’ll get the answer you’re after. Photo: Stockphoto

Right. Any questions?

Thursday, 5 July, 2018 - 09:15

Questions breed sales. Using questions to find facts is critical to creating an atmosphere in which a sale can be made.

Sales solutions are easy once you identify the prospect’s problems.

The sale is most easily made once you identify the prospect’s real needs.

Here is a questioning technique that can be used to qualify, identify true needs, and close the sale in five question-steps.

For this example, let’s say I’m selling printing. (Have a note pad out and use it as the prospect responds).

Question one

How do you select a printer (variation how do you choose a printer)?

Prospect says: ‘Quality, delivery and price’.

Question two

How do you define quality or what does quality mean to you? (ask the same ‘how do you define’ question for all three responses of the ‘how do you choose’ question).

The prospect will give you thoughtful answers. Many prospects have never been asked questions like these and will be forced to think in new patterns. You may even want to ask a follow-up question or create a tie-down question here before going to step three. For example, the prospect says he/she defines quality as crisp clear printing. You ask, ‘Oh, you mean printing that reflects the image of the quality of your company?’

How can a prospect possibly say ‘no’ to that question?

Question three

Is that important to you? (or) Is that most important to you? (or) Why is that important to you?

This question draws out the true need of the prospect. Finding out what is important to them about printing, and why printing is important are the keys to closing the sale. There may be secondary or follow up questions to gain clear definition of what is important and why.

Question four

If I could deliver the quality you demand, so that the image in your printing reflects the image of your business to your customers, and I could do it in the time frame you require, at a reasonable (not the cheapest) price, would I be (is there any reason I would not be) a candidate for your business?

Of course you would. This is a feedback question that combines the data found in the first three questions. It’s the classic, ‘If I … would you …’ question that makes the prospect commit. It actually quasi-closes the prospect. If there is a true objection (we have to get bids, someone else decides, I’m satisfied with my present vendor) it is likely to surface here.

Question five

Great. When could we begin? (or) Great. When is your next printing project?

The object of the fifth question is to pin the prospect down to a beginning date or time or quantity to start doing business. In many cases you can sell a sample order or trial. Where big-ticket products are involved (copiers, computers), a puppy dog approach will work best (leave your product for the customer to use for a few days) or take the prospect to visit a satisfied customer and see your product in operation and get a live testimonial.

This is not hard sell, it’s heart sell. Good questions get to the heart of the problem/need very quickly without the buyer feeling like he or she is being pushed. Use the questioning process early and often. If you’re doing a lot of talking and the prospect is not, you’re boring the prospect and losing the sale.

Looking for a few additional power question lead-ins? Try these.

• What do you look for ...

• What have you found ...

• How do you propose ...

• What has been your experience ...

• How have you successfully used. ..

• How do you determine ...

• Why is that a deciding factor ...

• What makes you choose ...

• What do you like about ...

• What is one thing you would improve about ...

• Are there other factors ...

• What does your competitor do about ...

• How do your customers react to ...

To use questions successfully, they must be thought out and written down in advance.

Develop a list of 15-25 questions that uncover needs, problems, pains, concerns, and objections.

Develop 15-25 more that create prospect commitment as a result of the information you have uncovered.

After about 25 attempts at asking the right questions, you’ll begin to see the real rewards.


Good questions get to the heart of the problem/need very quickly – 
without the buyer feeling like he or she is being pushed.

Jeffrey Gitomer is an American author, professional speaker and business trainer, who writes and lectures internationally on sales, customer loyalty and personal development

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