Over the decades that I’ve been involved in sales, I’ve worked with tens of thousands of sales people. Certain negative tendencies — mistakes that sales people make — keep surfacing. Here is number four of my top five. See to what degree you (or your sales force) may be guilty of them.
Mistake Number Four: Poor questioning
This is a variation of the third mistake. I am absolutely astonished at the lack of thoughtfulness that I often see on the part of sales people. Some use questions like sledge hammers, splintering the relationship and bruising the sensibility of their customers by thoughtless questions.
Others don’t use them at all, practically ignoring the most important part of a sales call. They labor under the misconception that the more they talk, the better job of selling they do, when the truth lies in exactly the opposite approach.
And others are content to play about the surface of the issue. “How much of this do you use?” “What do you not like about your current supplier?” Their questions are superficial at best, redundant and irritating at worst.
The result? These sales people never really uncover the deeper more intense issues that motivate their customers. Instead, they continually react to the common complaint of customers who have been given no reason to think otherwise: “Your price is too high.”
Fewer sales, constant complaints about pricing, frustrated sales people, impatient managers, and unimpressed customers – all of these as a result of the inability to use the sales person’s most powerful tool with skill and sensitivity.
Overcoming this tendency
We’re back again to planning and preparing. This time, the focus of our planning time is creating good questions. By taking the time to prepare good sales questions, word for word, before the sales call, we insure that our questioning will be far more effective than if we rely on our spur of the moment ability to create on the fly. Spend some of that planning time doing just that – creating good questions word for word.
You’ll find a much more detailed explanation of the role of good questions and how to create them in my book, Question Your Way to Sales Success.