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January 21, 2016 // 12:00 PM

The Overlooked Question That Changes Sales Conversations

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Sales reps are trained to ask prospects questions. It’s how reps learn about their prospects, qualify them, and build rapport.

Potential buyers, however, might not be trained -- or interested, frankly -- to ask questions to sales reps. Instead, prospects spend their time on the internet looking for answers on their own. 

According to CEBprospects are going through nearly 60% of their buying journey before talking to a salesperson. For sales reps, this can either be helpful or hurtful. On one hand, prospects often come to the sales process with a significant amount of information about the rep’s product, which means salespeople don’t have to spend as much time educating. But on the other hand, prospects can also misunderstand the value of the product and how it can help their business.

By the time sales reps talk with a prospect on the phone, that prospect likely already has a vision of how the product can either be helpful or hurtful to their business. For the potential buyer, this call is simply about clarifying the information they’ve gathered. How can a salesperson have an impact against the buyer’s confirmation bias?

In this situation, reps can ask a powerful question to gauge how much research the prospect has done, and potentially make them reconsider an established opinion: What is it you think we do?

By asking this question, the rep can grasp the prospect’s thinking and their level of understanding of the product. Below are four benefits for reps when they ask this powerful question:

They get a handle on the product’s online presence.

When a salesperson poses this question, the prospect will tell the rep, based on what they’ve read, what they think the product does. The prospect’s answer allows the rep to determine whether their online materials need to be improved or clarified for a better understanding. If the prospect is unclear about what the product does after a significant amount of research, it might be time to plot a new path and change the product’s marketing presence.

They get an understanding of what the prospect thinks of the product.

This question also prompts the prospect’s opinion of the product. The prospect will ideally dive into how they think the product can help solve a pain point or bring them one step closer to their goals, and how they imagine it fitting into their business. For the sales rep, this is incredibly valuable information. By reading between the lines, the prospect can learn two critical pieces of information with one simple question.

They can correct or confirm the buyer's assumptions.

Based on what the prospect has told you, the rep is now in a position to either correct the assumptions the prospect has made about the rep’s product or confirm them. In the event the prospect has gathered unreliable information, the sales rep can step in and correct the inaccuracies so the prospect can gain a better understanding.

They can paint a clearer picture.

Finally, after gathering a significant amount of information from the prospect, the rep is now in a position to paint a clearer picture for the prospect of the value of their product. Armed with pain points and goals, the rep can create a tailored message to fit what the prospect is looking for in a solution.

In the age of the internet, prospects now spend more time researching and less time with sales reps. When the prospect finally does reach out to Sales, reps need to be ready. A simple question can go a long way in correcting false assumptions or changing skeptical minds.

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Topics: Sales Calls

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