Four Questions to Ask

By Laura Atchison, Guest Contributor

Four Questions to Ask Have you ever read Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss? It is one of the best sales training books ever written. In the book, Sam convinces the other character to try something he had decided he did not like without even tasting it before. Sales!

Do you know that situation?

You are heading to a potential sale and you are going to recommend a solution or product that they may never have considered before. Or perhaps one that they had but it wasn’t a success?

So what questions do you need to ask to make the outcome a positive one? Here are four I recommend:

    1. What’s my definition of success? As sales people we often define success as landing the contract, hitting our sales quota or exceeding it. Understanding what success means to you sets the tone for how you will approach each client interaction.If money is your success measure, you may push for higher dollar sales.If satisfied, repeat clients are the measure, you may focus on long term planning with specific milestones for individual clients. You may lay out a strategic plan that grows your business while increasing their spending with you as they achieve those milestones.
    2. What’s the best outcome for the client? And, how does that compare to what they think is the best outcome? A lot of you who are reading this are experienced sales people. You are probably laughing right now remembering those times when you presented a solution and the client said, “that wasn’t what I expected at all!”

I’ve found that questioning the best outcome for the client is critical to presenting the best solution. Planning for the client’s best outcome changes how we approach the solution. We focus on the value to the client and the impact of the solution on their business.

Sometimes the anticipated outcome isn’t the best one for the client. Once we know what the best outcome is, we can plan how we will present it in a way the client will recognize the value of the solution, too. That allows me to anticipate roadblocks. It also distinguishes my proposal from the competition.

  1. At the end of the meeting, ask, “Is there anything I did not ask that I should have asked?” By doing this you cause the client to think through your discussion again. This additional question can open new doors. The client now has new information from your conversation which may open a different line of thought. It also sets you up as someone who wants to have all the information to best help them. If they reply, “No, you asked it all,” it establishes you as an expert in their mind.
  2. After any sales call, ask yourself, “Is this client a good fit for our company, or are we both better served by referring them to another company?” Tough one, but now that you have more information about the client you may realize that the best sale was the one you walked away from.

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