Asking powerful sales questions is essential for sales success.
Buyers want to work with sellers who understand their situation and propose a solution that’s tailored to them. To uncover their needs and help them create better futures, it’s going to take some probing.
While there are different categories of questions you can ask, there’s one type of power-booster question that’s rarely talked about but can transform your sales conversations.
The follow-up question.
These questions are crucial because they allow you to dig deeper and confirm you truly understand what the buyer’s saying. The more you can seek to understand what’s important to the buyer and their situation, the better equipped you’ll be to propose the most robust solution.
In this process, you can also uncover a broader set of needs that you and the buyer didn’t even know existed. Then you can propose a solution that makes you categorically distinct and allows you to unleash additional value, unexpectedly.
Here are three simple-yet-powerful follow-up questions that can instantly uncover a remarkable amount of valuable information.
- How So?
Understanding the buyer’s perception of a situation will not only give you further insight into how to address it, but also a glimpse of the buyer’s thought process.
- Can you tell me a little more about that?
Whether you don’t understand, want to know more, or think there’s an opportunity in this area, digging a little deeper will give you the clarity you need.
Why is one of the single most powerful questions. And don’t just ask why once. Asking multiple times can open the door for new insights as you get to the underlying cause of the problem. This allows you to create a better, more durable solution.
As you prepare for deeper analysis, here are a few “why” questions that can get you ready for your next sales call:
- Why did that happen? Why is that?
- Why do you think that’s happening? Why do you want to do this?
- Why did you choose this path versus that one? Why aren’t things moving along?
- Is that true? Why?
Asking follow-up questions can get buyers to open up more. You’ll be surprised at how much you can learn from them, and the difference it will make in your ability to help the buyer succeed.
Here are a few examples.
Seller: So, what I’m hearing is you have a decent number of accounts you’re doing really well with, but there’s a big marketplace you’re not even touching. You think you could, but your team isn’t proactive enough to broaden your base of accounts. Yes?
Buyer: Yes, I think you’ve captured it pretty accurately.
Seller: Why do you think that is?
Buyer: I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps we could spend more time on business development and prospecting. Right now, I would say only 20% of their time is spent on these activities.
Seller: If that’s the case, how do you think they’re spending the remaining 80% of their time?
Sometimes it takes several follow-up questions to get to the root of an issue. Don’t give up.
Buyer: We need more of our sellers to actually be out selling. Our brand has carried us far up to this point and they’ve gotten away with being great relationship developers who accept orders from our customers. There’s very little proactive selling involved.
Seller: Can you tell me a little bit more about that?
Buyer: Sure. Our sellers have large accounts and mostly just sit back and wait for the phone to ring. And it has. Until now. The marketplace is changing and becoming much more competitive. We have drugs coming off patents and low-priced competitors ready to swoop in and steal our customers. We need a strategy in place to not only protect our current customers, but also bring in new ones.
By asking the buyer to share more, the seller was able to uncover additional needs. It wasn’t only about their sellers becoming more proactive, but also the need for them to protect their current accounts.
While these examples are simple, they’re great reminders for sellers to dig deeper, and they demonstrate the power of follow-up questions. While your initial reaction may be to jump at the first need you uncover and start discussing how you can help, have a little patience and conduct a full needs discovery. This will allow you to understand the full picture of what’s going on and propose a much more robust solution.