It All Starts With a Question: Open Ended Questions in Sales

Open Ended Questions in Sales


You have all heard the expression, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” That might work in some situations, but not with sales meetings.  How you start is everything, and it all starts with a question.

Hello, this is Walt Gerano with Anthony Cole Training Group, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Sales Brew.

When I ask salespeople “how do you get information?” half of them tell me they go to Google. Even when you use Google, it still starts with a question.

For today, I want to talk about the sales meetings you have.

After you get the meeting, how do you get off to a great start? It’s easy: you start by asking a great question.

Those of you that know me well will not be surprised when I tell you that getting the answer to the question “Why am I here?” is at the top of the list.

There are many ways to ask that question, and you should prepare your version for each prospect, but then what? Sit back and LISTEN. The best way to get the dialogue going and keep it going is to continue to ask questions.

They must be questions that are open-ended, you know the ones they cannot answer with yes or no.  We refer to them as the journalism questions: those that begin with who, what, where, when, why, and how.  Nothing will kill a good conversation faster than asking yes or no questions.

Finding an effective way to prolong the conversation gives us a chance to find out what their real motivation is to meet with us and see if they have a problem they have to fix.

There are four main areas we have to probe to find out if we have a qualified prospect so once you get by the chit-chat focus on questions that will help you:

  1. Find out if there is a problem they have to fix?
  2. Questions about their willingness to commit to spending the time and money to address it.
  3. Ask what their decision-making process looks like and especially who will make the decision.
  4. Finally, if you provide a solution that solves the problem are they willing to leave their current relationship?

Some final thoughts:

  1. Slow down, done well this is not a process you want to rush, and good prospects can be in short supply sometimes.
  2. Listen and ask them to clarify anything they say that you are not 100% sure what they mean.
  3. When you discover and problem that has to fix, ask if they want your help.

Of course, a lot of things happen in-between, but remember “It all starts with a question.”

From Sales Development Expert, Walt Gerano


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