Getting More Sales — Sales Questions to Ask

Over the last several years I’ve discovered a totally new strategy for the one-on-one sale that literally increased my sales close ratio another 5-8 times.
I’m in the process of writing a new ebook, and thought I’d share some of the ideas with you as I go.
The biggest thing that makes a difference in a sales call is “selling is not telling”, it is knowing what sales questions to ask, asking the right questions. And I can even remember hearing that statement back 8-10 years ago, but it never sunk in like it has in the last couple of years.
When I first heard that I started asking what I’d call “diagnostic” questions. Questions that helped me diagnose what was going on in that business., and then coaching them toward the results. 
Although that’s important, those still aren’t the questions that make the BIGGEST difference in literally getting your prospects to switch to BEGGING YOU TO HELP THEM.
Some time ago I wrote an article about “Getting cleints to chase after you like you had the cure for cancer.” Although that was about Marketing (attracting clients who don’t know you from Adam, at least yet), in this e-book I’ll extend that whole concept of them chasing after you begging for you to help them.
So, let’s take a look at just one of the examples and how we could do that in the sales process too.
The key is in asking questions that extend beyond “diagnosing” the problem into helping your prospect think through the necessary questions he needs to answer that will have him taking the necessary steps that excite him about getting the results he needs, and with you. This isn’t about PERSUASION, not at all.
This is about that prospect DISCOVERING a series of steps that
  • excite him about FINALLY getting the results,
    • what HE has to do to get not just some results . . . but results that are even far greater than he’d hoped.
  • excite him about achieving far more than he’d ever hoped, and discovering the VALUE of achieving those results NOW, not later.
  • excite him about finally overcoming the pain of living with his current situation.
  • Helping him discover that you’ve done this many times before, in what time frame, AND that you’ve done this with people just like him, EVEN THOSE who had given up just like he has.
The idea is that he’ll lead himself down the path that clearly leads from where he is to the answers that he can get rather quickly with you,, and that what you have is so far greater than anything he’s ever run into.
In other words, your job is to help him recognize just how valuable you are, and that he can’t afford to delay hiring you.
It’s the questions you ask, the order you ask them, and the discoveries that your prospect discovers. It has nothing to do with asking diagnostic questions like I’ve asked before, although some of the questions may start there to discover step one, but where he goes from there depends on the series of questions you ask that leads him down the path.
Do you know how to lead your prospects down that path so that they will BEG you to help them?
The following isn’t the whole series of questions, but it is a situation that most of us have experienced that might help you discover some of the questions for yourself.
How many times have you been in a situation where you’ve tried to ask the prospect what is his budget for this, and they said either “I don’t have one”, “never thought about it”, or “I’d rather not discuss it at this point” ?
And what was your response to that?
Did you respond with, “Oh, OK.” Duh!!!! You didn’t know how to get out of that situation did you? So you just let it slip by.
Well, here’s one way that you might handle that with the right questions.
By the time you got to this point, I would hope that you’ve already laid out what the goals are, and what they are struggling with. So, here’s the next question.
  • Now that we’ve got the objectives clearly defined, what is your budget for this?
    • I really haven’t even considered a budget to fix this.
So, are you standing there with that “Oh, OK” Duh . . thought? And have no clue what to do next? Try this.
  • Then let’s review where you want to be, what you want to get from this. Is that OK?
    • OK
NEVER head down a path without asking their permission. The more times you ask them, can we go here, or can we go there, the the more they are already on your side. You aren’t playing the role of an aggressive salesman if you are always asking, Can we go here?
Another suggestion at this point. ALWAYS lead with a carrot. Let them know what that ULTIMATE MEASURABLE outcome will be . . . or is likely to be . . . or has been for your clients. Choose one approach and lead with that carrot.
This extends the AIDA formula from marketing into your sales process. In other words, Get their Attention, give them some information, building their interest, then BUILD DESIRE, and end with a call to action. The next statement builds desire.
  • Essentially we are going to transform this business, turning your results totally upside down, and specifically we’ll be increasing your sales by 5-10 times just like ________________ (naming a company we’ve already talked about who did that that I had worked with). Is that what you wanted to happen rather quickly?
    • Of course.
  • What will that mean to your business bottom line if you could do that within 5 months?
    • Wow, I had thought it might take a year or two. If we could do that in 5 months that might actually mean that I’ll not have to get that extra loan.
  • So, what will that mean to your bottom line, increasing sales by another 5-10 times?
    • At least another $1M. I knew that we needed at least $500K to reach our first level goal that I hadn’t even considered $1M, let alone in doing it in less than 1/4th the time. I was about to give up.
  • What would it be worth to you to make that $1M more in sales and doing it in months instead of years?
    • Oh, wow. So many things that would change. We could _____________________________________________________ (he lists about a dozen things that he’d even given up thinking about being able to do.”
  • OK. It appears that there are many other opportunities opening up here. If we added those on top of our original goals, how important would they be to you?
At this point we can clearly see that his excitement is going up and up, as we discover more and more outcomes that will be possible. After he goes on for another 10 minutes, again I ask him
  • So what is ALL OF THAT going to add to your bottom line?
    • Holy smokes, at least another $1M . . . AT LEAST. Maybe I’m getting too far ahead of myself. This just isn’t very likely is it?
  • Well, if you could achieve the goals we originally laid out that would be your first $1M, and you said that would open lots of other opportunities.
  • So, whatever part of those second level opportunities fell into your lap, what’s all of this worth to your bottom line, and other things.
    • At least the $1M for the first step, and even if I only got 1/2 of the additional stuff, that’d total $1.5M. Wow!
  • If you could increase your bottom line another $1.5M within the next 5 months, what would you be willing to invest into that?
    • Golly, we’ve invested 10% for some of the htings we’ve done before. That would be $150K, but we just don’t have that available right now.
At this point I could see disappointment showing on the CEO’s face. He knew he couldn’t come up with $150K.
  • Many of my clients have seen anywhere from a 50-100 times ROI from my fee to the measurable outcomes. And, we don’t have to spend it all at once. Whatever the ROI, can we figure on a first step that is likely to be 10 times or more ROI for a first month, and then based on the return from that apply it to the next month? I don’t want to see a budget hold back progress to this kind of opportunity, would you?
    • No. I can easily come up with $10K for the first month, and if that generates $100K we’ll have that to apply to future steps. Let’s get this turned on.
Knowing where you want them to be, the questions they have in their head that need answering so they can get what THEY WANT, and become their partner in making it happen is the key. 
Don’t spend your time with a prospect helping him get where he wants to be. Spend the time making his mouth water for the results he KNOWS he’ll have by working with you. Ask the right sales questions in the right order and you’ll get lots more sales.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>