Working on the basis that you are dealing with the MAN (the person with the Money, the Authority and the Need), you must very quickly assess if you have a potential prospect or not. In other words, can their needs be met by the products and services you have to offer? It may not always be obvious to the prospect that they can use your products, but your industry experience tells you that they can. In this instance, we are looking for an opportunity to uncover some needs. You cannot create needs, but you can uncover them.
The key to uncovering needs lies in good questioning techniques. Questioning is a skill that requires much practice and concentration, but once mastered serves you well because it allows you to:
Sell Not Tell
Most emerging salespeople talk too much. They’re good talkers, “They must be salespeople”, or “All you need to be a salesperson is the gift of the gab”, are often heard misnomers. Most prospects, at the sales stage, come to expect that a salesperson will probably talk at them, for too long and about very little – especially where it concerns their needs. You want to do the unexpected with your prospects and sell, not tell. Do remember that customers and prospects are most comfortable when they are part of the process – and not part of the audience.
If you are talking, you are not listening! If you do not listen, you will never find out enough information about the prospect or their needs. Apply the 80/20 rule – you should use questioning techniques so that the prospect is doing 80% of the talking and you are only doing 20%. God provided us with two ears and only one mouth and we should use them in that order!!
Uncover Needs, Painlessly
Rarely do you receive information, unless you ask for it. You need information to sell your services or products and look for future sales possibilities. Skilful questioning means that you do not seem to be imposing on the prospect by asking too many questions.
Using questioning techniques, you can control the prospect in almost any given situation. You can guide the prospect towards acceptance of your solution. Should you need to, you can use questioning techniques to regain control.
Probably the single most important skill that a salesperson can possess is good questioning techniques. It is certainly one of the most under-estimated and under-used selling skills. Several other sales techniques also rely heavily on your ability to ask questions effectively.