Two Questions to Ask Before Any Sale

Michele Warg
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For sales professionals, closing a sale can be a tricky process. Instead of making claims and promoting your product or service, take time to listen to the client. When you ask the right sales questions, you can ensure that your client is happy and satisfied before the sale closes.

Early in the sales process—after you have determined that the client is actually in a position to make a major purchase rather than just checking prices—it is crucial to get to the heart of the situation. Ask the client some variation of, "What parts of your process are not working for you right now?" The exact wording will vary based on the type of products or services you are selling. If you are trying to sell robotic automation equipment to a manufacturing firm, for example, you might ask, "What points of your operation are causing bottlenecks?"

Asking sales questions designed to get to the heart of a client's problem forces the customer to stop and think about what parts of the company's operations aren't working. The question is open-ended, so it encourages the client to answer in any way he or she sees fit. The trick is to give the client time to think before you ask follow-up sales questions. According to Sales Engine, to get the best information from a client, you must learn to be comfortable with silence. In many cases, the first answer will be the stock answer the client gives to every sales rep. The second and third answers, on the other hand, may be more honest and thoughtful. By listening to your clients, you can gain valuable insight into their unique challenges, enabling you to provide better service and more useful solutions.

Another important time for questions comes near the end of the sales process. Many salespeople, once they come close to closing a sale, simply close it up and assume that the client is happy. This approach is a sales technique that rarely pleases clients. Instead of closing out with your standard sales questions, ask, "What are your expectations as we move forward?" Though it seems simple, particularly in comparison to more complex sales questions, this question enables you to get a precise idea of what the client is expecting you to deliver.

Pay close attention to the client's answer, looking out for vague responses and red flags. If you do not plan to provide installation or training and the client hints at continuing service, address the issue immediately. By creating specific, mutually agreed-upon deliverables, you can avoid a great deal of frustration down the road. As an added bonus, you'll have the opportunity to over deliver for your clients with low expectations.

By making a concerted effort to ask these simple sales questions, you can improve your sales techniques and communication with clients. The more information you have, the more effective you will be at creating tailored pitches and providing memorable service.


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