To Make Sales, Stop Answering Questions



What? What kind of sales professional doesn't answer questions?

I'll tell you: The successful kind.

Yep, I said it. Here's an example conversation to back it up:

Prospect: "Is this the only color it comes in?"

Seller: "Yes. Absolutely."

[Dead air.]

And therein lies the problem with the type of salesperson I like to call the "Answer Man (or Woman)".

In one simple exchange, we see how uncomfortable this type of seller can make prospect conversations. Once the salesperson has given a close-ended answer, the asker (usually the prospect) feels like they have to come up with another question because the silence is unbearable. The seller has just missed a huge opportunity to turn the conversation in a direction that's advantageous to them -- instead, they're just waiting for another dead-end question like a catcher for another pitch.

Let's remember the Golden Rule of communicating: Whoever is asking the questions is in charge of the interaction, 100% of the time.

Simply giving information in the form of an answer adds no value to a sale. If you learn anything today, remember this: Learning some facts or data does nothing to move someone closer to a sale.

What does move someone closer to a purchase? It's what the information or data will do for them.

Simply answering questions, one after another, can make you feel like you're being pelted with dodgeballs. It keeps you in a weak position and doesn't give you a chance to develop a sales qualification strategy based on what's most important to them, since they're not telling you their primary objectives (and by not asking, you haven't given them an opportunity to). They're in charge, and you're at the mercy of whatever their next question is.

So, what do I do when a prospect asks me something? (See? That's a question.)

When asked a question, keep in mind that it is your job to find out if this is a real concern or just a red herring. Why is the prospect asking the question? What are they trying to find out by asking the question?

You are the gatherer of information, not the giver. Does the buyer in the example above really care about the color or are they just trying to fill the void caused by an inexperienced seller?

As a salesperson, you need to find out why prospects are asking what they're asking. That is the only way that you can position your response in a way that shows what your product or service does to solve their need.

Let's take a look at how that could play out:

Prospect: "Is this the only color it comes in?"

Seller: "I'll check to there a color you'd prefer?"

Prospect: "I think that I'd like it better if it were pink. Pink is my wife's favorite color and since this would be a gift for our anniversary, I'd like it if I could get it in pink."

Eureka -- we just struck oil! We got so much personal, emotional and detailed information by simply turning around the question and probing a little deeper. 

Did that seem unprofessional, uncomfortable, or "salesy"? No! It unleashed a torrent of emotion-based motives that we will use as closing tools ... from just one question.

Now you're in the driver's seat. Feel the energy change? We just took back the position of strength and authority and became the consultant instead of the tour guide.

Now can you begin to develop a sale. Would you have ever known about the buyer's anniversary, his wife's favorite color, or the emotion embedded in their question about color if you hadn't asked for more detail? No.

You must dig these things out. This strategy is what will earn you sales, clients for life, and top producer status. Just imagine if you could do that all the way through your presentation.

Hint: You can, superstar! Just remember never to take questions at face value and always get to the heart of your prospect's concerns.

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