Every interaction that your sales team has with prospective customers is important. One way to close more sales effectively is by being better at asking questions of your potential customers. Existing and potential customers can provide you with information about improving your own business, the current marketplace and your competitors, and most importantly, about what they need to hear so you can close the sale. Asking good questions means choosing your questions carefully and asking them in the best way, using proper wording designed to elicit helpful information.
Getting the Information You Need to Close a Sale
Don’t assume you know what to say to close a sale with a specific prospective customer. Instead, ask questions designed to get the customer to tell you exactly what you need to say to get their business. For example, a very successful salesperson for an electrical equipment company said that a helpful question that he always asked potential customers was, “What’s the one thing that you wish your current vendor did that they don’t do?” The responses he typically got informed him that potential customers were often dissatisfied with having to wait for parts or having to pay exorbitant shipping costs. Based on that information, he could then often close sales by informing them that his company offered free next-day delivery. It’s generally a good idea to ask open-ended questions, but avoid questions that are too wide open. The broadness of “What else can I help you with?” may make it difficult to answer. Consider narrowing the scope of your question by instead asking something like, “What things would you like to improve in (name one or two areas of operation that your small business serves)?”You can often discover what your small business offers that a prospective customer needs by asking about their future plans. Asking a customer about their current goals for their company can provide vital clues to what goods or services they will need to accomplish those goals. Therefore, one good question to ask might be something like, “What’s the main thing your company is focused on accomplishing this year?”
Good Closing Questions
When it gets right down to closing a potential customer, the questions you ask should be designed to get their business or to keep your foot in the door so that you can try again at a future date. If you feel that you’ve reached the point where you can close a sale, ask a question that includes letting the customer know that all the groundwork has been laid for doing business with you. For example, you can preface asking the customer how to proceed in establishing doing business with them by noting, “Well, I think we’ve pretty well covered everything.”If you don’t feel confident in moving forward to close the sale at the end of a meeting with potential customer, then ask a question designed to get another meeting opportunity to do so. A good question of this type is, “How about if I put together some options that I think might help you, and we get together and discuss them next week?”