If you don’t ask, you don’t get – Better questioning techniques to boost sales

If you don’t ask, you don’t get – Better questioning techniques to boost sales

“We have been established for 30 years, offering outstanding customer service.

 We have a diverse client base, including……

We provide a range of services…….”

This is all well and good, but it fails to take into account your potential client’s own unique set of needs. All too often, we enter into a potential sale by telling the other party why our company and our services would be good for them.  This may work, but you’re far more likely to gain a quality sale if you invest a bit of time and preparation in the sales process.  The most effective way of doing this is through perceptive questioning.

Questions are extremely effective:

  • They generate answers from which you learn
  • The answers inform your subsequent questions
  • You get your prospective client talking and they frequently learn too
  • The conversation is around what’s important to the other person and not just you
  • You are in control
  • It is the easiest way to uncover their needs
  • Intelligent questions, rather than going on ‘transmit’, are the most effective way to get your expertise and experience across.

Listed below are the 4 main types of question you should consider, which will help enhance your effectiveness in a sales meeting and above all, help differentiate you from the competition:

1. Fact Seeking Questions.  These are used to collect facts about the prospect.  Most can be answered with some research, so do your homework before the call.  Inexperienced sellers tend to use these excessively, which is counterproductive in a meeting because, by their very nature, they tend to be for the benefit of the seller rather than the prospective client.

2. Issues Seeking Questions.  These are used to probe for problems.  They should be carefully considered and some written down before you meet with the prospective client.  They tend to be asked by more experienced sellers.   However, the client may well not be ready to buy at this stage, even though you may have identified a number of issues.  Do not leap in to sell just yet.

3. Implication Questions.  If you uncover some issues important to the client, that’s all well and good but what is really important now is to ask the ‘so what?’ question.  These are designed to uncover the implications of leaving the issue unresolved.  They are harder to ask than Fact or Issues Seeking questions but they create a high impact on the decision maker.  They are strongly linked to success in your sale and this is mainly because they focus on identifying the seriousness of the problem in the mind of the prospective client.

4. Value Questions.  These focus on solutions rather than difficulties and generally create a positive atmosphere.  Using these questions, you get the prospective client to tell you the benefits of having their problem resolved.  This will in turn reduce objections, as they can see the value of you solving the problem.
Avoid asking value questions too early in the call.  You need to build up the need first, before you can resolve the problem e.g. “Why is that important?”, “How would that help?”, “Would it be useful if?”
THE PROCESS – follow this simple step by step process which will ensure you appear interested and want to get under the skin of their problem.  Assume for example, a client has a leaking warehouse roof.

1. Fact Seeking Questions – to aid your general understanding

    Q: How large is the warehouse roof?

     A: 400 square metres

2. Issues Seeking Questions – to uncover the problems

    Q:  What problems are you facing with it?

     A:  A few small leaks but nothing too serious.   (Client not ready to buy)

3.  Implication
Questions  – to help the client realise the implications of letting the problem go unresolved

     Q:  What would happen to your stock if they go unrepaired and get worse? 

      A:  Serious water damage.

 4. Value Questions  – to allow the client to confirm the value of your proposition

      Q:  What other benefits would repair bring you? 

      A:  No need to divert other resources, e.g. labour when it rains.  (Client ready to buy)


Key Point.  Do not go for the sale until the client has stated clearly that they want the problem resolved.  The tendency is to dive in too early at the first hint of a problem.