Asking The Right Questions Means Changing How We Listen
We all want to seal the deal – to close the sale when we’re talking to a potential client. To that end, the questions we ask as salespeople often turn out to be the questions with answers we want to hear. This means that we aren’t clearly listening to our clients. So, while you may close the sale with this technique, you won’t come away with any new insights or a stronger relationship with your client. Asking the right questions can change that.
There Are No Stupid Questions…
…Except maybe the ones you already know the answer to. Don’t waste your time, or your customers’ time, with questions to which you already know the answers. This doesn’t mean not to ask questions, however. You should ask plenty of those. And each answer should lead you to a new question. Find out what difficulties your clients are having with a project. Ask them about their solutions. Test out these questions next time you talk to a client:
- What projects are your top priorities right now?
- What difficulties are you having with those projects?
- How are you managing those problems?
- What is the timeline for that project?
- Who is working on the project?
- How were those individuals chosen?
Asking open-ended questions will get you the furthest when talking to clients. Give them time to discuss their situations. This not only provides you with information about your client, but it also creates a relationship of trust between you and them. That kind of relationship will encourage your clients to come to you next time they have a problem because they know you will listen thoroughly and try to come to an answer collaboratively.
Close Listening And Listening Closely
If you are asking the right questions, then there are only two other things you need to do in order to build an effective bond between yourself and your clients. The first is close listening. This means asking clarifying questions. Because, as it turns out, good listening ends up looking a lot like asking good questions. Get your clients to explain different components of their problems in more detail and practice your close listening skills.
The last tactic for more successful conversations is to listen closely. This translates into repeating back what you heard in your own words to make sure you have understood your client correctly. Tell them what you heard and then listen closely to their response. Did they affirm your understanding or correct it? Absorb this information and ask more questions. There’s no such thing as too many.