Posts Tagged ‘interview skills’

Your Sales Ingredients to Success: Part IIIb

April 24, 2008

Today we are going to focus on the second section of negotiating, namely the questions we ask during the process of negotiating the deal.

Questions: Discovering the How, Why, When and Where

The biggest thing I need to mention here is good preparation makes for good questions. While there are basic questions that need to be addressed with every client, nevertheless every client is unique, so tailoring the items that need discussing is critical.

One caution here though: Always remember that most sales people have presentations that sound completely canned. And in our day, our cans even come with a pop-a-top! How convenient! So just be aware of yourself and your presentation to avoid the pop-a-top action…it’s loud and completely noticeable. Just trust me on that one!

  • Open-Ended – These are the types of questions you should ask because your goal is to find out how they fell, what the are thinking, and what they truly want. If you use too many “yes or no” type questions, you not only get limited answers, but it can very discouraging for other people responding and they are certainly not going to warm up to you to share more detail.
  • Need-Based – You need to have true insight into what they need to accomplish. One of the ways to do this effectively is to ask them what is keeping them from accomplishing what they want. Have them describe the limitations. Some people don’t do this because they are afraid the answers may be the very problems their own product has. Don’t worry about that! Remember, we are looking for a good fit and if we truly can resolve the issue, why waste each other’s time?
  • Motivational – These are unique from the needs side in that they explore the desires and feelings of what is wanted. What is the true motivation behind the decision? Most of the time this can also pinpoint the time-frame for the buying decision so that you have a calendar of when things need to get done. Are their deadlines that need to be met? Is there some training involved to get them to that level quicker? Truly discover the motivation behind the needs and wants.
  • Probe; don’t Pry – I can’t tell you how many times I have spoken to sales professionals that say things like, “You do want to save money right?” or “You do want to get this done by the end of the week right?”. I am sure you can see how unreceptive you might be if someone asked you these questions. How would you respond? You already know the answer to this anyway because you asked the right questions in the first place, so avoid the offensive questions you already know the answers to. Be cautioned about how you phrase the questions as well. This is where preparation ahead of time can help you think of better ways to ask the right questions.
  • Keep it simple – Keep your questions simple and easy to answer. Why? Because one you don’t want to make them feel stupid or ignorant to their own problems. Ask questions they will definitely know the answers too, and again keep in mind the phrasing. The smarter they feel in answering your questions, the greater you make them feel.
  • 3 Levels deep – This is a principle I learned long ago when I served a mission for my church in Chicago. It is a principle that basically says if you haven’t gone at least 3 levels deep, then you still don’t know what they truly want.
  • Guide the Interview – Be sure to ask questions that guide the conversation where it needs to go. Some people do like to ramble, so be aware off this and always find ways to bring the conversation back to the main focus: resolving their problem. I have seen so many sales professionals that use this guidance as an excuse to provide the answers for the prospect. This accomplishes nothing! At that point all you have done is come to your own conclusions without really addressing the main concerns or getting the real answers.
  • Listen to the Silence – I know we covered the listen part in the last section, but I cannot emphasize this enough as it accompanies a word that most people for some reason fear: Silence. Have you ever been in a conversation and let there be a moment of silence? It so powerful, but most sales people think that if there is silence that this is a bad thing. It is the complete opposite! It gives everyone a chance to reflect for a brief moment and truly think about their response. Don’t ever feel like you need to fill in a moment of silence. More often than not, this moment of silence was exactly what was needed. So let it happen! Think about it. When there is silence, are you not at the edge of your seat waiting for the response? When there is silence, how much more likely are you to truly listen to the response that comes because you had to wait a little extra for it?

So there you have it. In the last section of part 3, we are going to get into the details of negotiating. Please feel free to leave comments or email if there are specific examples or challenges you are facing in this area that I can address.

Advertisements