People have a tendency to think about good communication in terms of speaking, but when it comes to sales, business development or sales management, questions are often the key to success.
Consider that in most conversations [interviews, debates, sales calls, performance reviews…] the person asking the questions is the one who controls the conversation.
In addition, if we ask better questions we will get better answers; and because of these answers we will be equipped with better information, which will enable us to make better suggestions, craft more compelling value propositions, or make more interesting presentations.
Similar perspective has been made by Jack Falvey, founder of makingthenumbers.com, who said, “Asking the best question has always been more important than making the best presentations.”
Or as stated by Paul Sloane, founder of Destination Innovation, “Asking questions is the single most important habit for innovative thinkers.”
Be Prepared With a New Focus
If this perspective resonates with you, or if you’d like to put it to the test, make this simple adjustment when preparing for your next sales call, meeting, important telephone conversation, or presentation:
- Put an equal amount of effort into planning what you will “say” as well as what you will “ask.”
In other words, put the same amount of focus on your questions as you put on your speaking points.
What is the one thing your business or organization has that none of your competitors have?
Over the past five years we have asked a great many people in all types of organizations this simple question; and while the answers initially vary, they all ultimately agree that there is only one true and sustainable differentiator…
It isn’t a product or a unique feature of a product, or even a type of service, because these can be too easily emulated. So while a one-of-a-kind product or service might serve as a short-term differentiator, neither represents the best answer.
The simple answer is: YOU!
An organization’s one true and sustainable differentiator is the people within. Collectively the people make-up an enterprise’s personality; they represent the core values, and they represent not “what” an organization does but rather “how” it is done, which ultimately makes all the difference.
Given these realities, making enterprise engagement a cultural choice within your organization is the ideal way of achieving long-term success.
Doing things in the proper sequence is often critically-important.
For example, in mathematics we have the standard order of operations. If we’re to reach the right solution our calculations must be performed in the right sequence, which is “Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication and Division, and then Addition and Subtraction.” A common technique for remembering this sequence is the phrase “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.”
Similarly, a good chef will tell you that the key to success when following a recipe is to not only add the right quantity of the right ingredients, but also to do so at the right time.
And as depicted in the image above, if we fail to aim before we fire, we are likely to miss our target!
So… there is an order of things.
And this “order of things” certainly applies to the selling process. Consider this simple but not-always-easy sequence, which helps sales professionals establish personal value, engage their customers, and shorten selling cycles:
- Sell yourself
- Sell the company
- Then sell products and services
Read the full article…
In a recent post we referenced the cardinal selling-sin of making premature presentations during sales calls.
These “premature” presentations sound like old-fashioned sales pitches that are based more on “what we offer” rather than “what you’ll get.” In other words, they are feature-rich and benefits-poor.
Good Intentions / Bad Results
In many instances, a sales person’s good intentions can lead to a premature presentation. This happens when a buyer’s need or problem surfaces and the seller “rushes” to the rescue by immediately offering a solution.
Despite the good intention, the result is usually bad because the sales person has not taken the time to establish the true value that might well be associated with the solution. Yet the urge to satisfy the buyer is strong, and can be tough to resist…
A better course of action is to use the technique of “foreshadowing,” which allows the seller to provide some instant satisfaction to the buyer while still holding-off on going too far before confirming that the solution will be the right one and also confirming the buyer’s receptivity level.
A simple method of foreshadowing would involve the sales person saying something like, “Wow! Based on what you’ve just told me I think you’ll really like our solution… but before I tell you about it, can you tell me a little more about the impact of this problem…?”
This approach is truly win-win, as both parties are able to recognize that something good is coming (something of value!), but the seller is still able to probe further into the situation before presenting the solution in full. This enables the seller to uncover or confirm the implications of the need, to measure the buyer’s initial reaction, and hopefully, to quantify the benefits and value that the soon-to-be-explained solution will provide.
If all goes well, the result will be a happy buyer as well as a happy seller!