The Coaching Effect Blog

The Coaching Effect Blog

    Tips:Best Question To Ask During A Sales Call

    by Kristi Shoemaker / June 1, 2011

    This guest blog article is written by out Pillar Partner, Tony Cole, President of Anthony Cole Training Group. Tony spoke at our spring 6 Pillars of Sales Productivity Workshop and received some of the highest ratings of all the instructors. As a Sales Manager, you should role pay with your sales reps during the pre-call coaching session to ensure they will ask the right questions during the sales call, so that it leads to a sale. This article gives you some tips on what to listen for as you coach.

    I hope you enjoy this thoughtful article from our friend and colleague Tony Cole.



    For More Sales Success,
    Ask the Right Questions  


    By Tony Cole, CEO, Anthony Cole Training Group    


    Asking the right question is always key to getting the right information. According to WIKI HOW, sales people spend too much time "pitching" and not enough time asking questions.  Tony Cole, Anthony Cole Training Group


    This practice also applies to real life.  Let me illustrate.   


    My brother-in-law Mike and I spend some time together--fishing. We don't talk about his printing business or our business helping sales people achieve sales success.  We spend time fishing, although with little success.   


    Mike called me recently and asked, "What does the 4th of July look like?" I replied, "It looks like the 5th, but a day earlier and it also looks like the 3rd, but a day later." Of course, Mike didn't really want to know "what the 4th looked like"; he wanted to know what we had planned for the 4th.  But he didn't ask the right question and I didn't give him the right answer.


    This happens often in the selling process. You ask a question that isn't well worded and get an answer you weren't expecting.  


    Asking the right question takes some forethought.  As you plan for your next call with a prospect, consider the following.  According to Seth Godin, people make decisions when something is happening to them that is not consistent with their worldview. Only when they are compelled to change, will they change.  They will not change because your pricing went down or your benefits went up.  They will change when they are ready to change.


    In the sales process, when you want to know if someone is really committed to making a change, you need to ask this question: "Do you want to fix the problem or do you have to fix the problem?" Notice the words "want" or "have". "Want" means desire (not commitment) and "have to" means need.  


    The other question is "What happens if you don't fix the problem?" The answer of a committed prospect will indicate a "need", not a desire. You are looking for need.


    As a salesperson, you also need to know if the prospect has money to fix the problem. You must ask the right question.  "Do you have the budget to fix the problem?" is not the right question.  "How much money will you invest to fix the problem?" is a better question. Or "Where will you find $25,000 to fix this problem and can you get that money?" are the right questions.


    As you near the close in the sales process, "Can you make a decision to do this?" is not the right question. There are still many unknowns. You must find out about the decision making process- who is involved in the decision, when it will be made, who wins if there is a "tie" and how the prospect will handle firing the incumbent, if there is one.  


    Here are three more great questions to gain clarity about commitment and the next steps in the sales process:


    "Do you think I understand your problem?"

    "Do you think I can help?"

    "Do you want my help?"


    There is no doubt that asking the right question, whether on a sales call or about your next fishing trip, is critical.  If you want the right answer, ask the right question. 


    Good Selling, 

    Tony Cole


    You may also find this related best practice, from the EcSELL Institute Resource Library, useful. It is a Sales Call Evaluation Form.  A Sales Manager can use this tool to grade a sales rep's performance during joint calls.  It provides a systematic, standard method for measurement that makes it very easy to coach the sales person following the meeting.




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    Kristi Shoemaker

    Kristi Shoemaker

    Kristi is a marketing communications and public relations expert with over 30+ years of experience in a variety of industries. She was an integral part of EcSell's go-to-market strategy and execution from 2008 - 2012. Kristi enjoys taking a holistic approach by integrating all the key marketing disciplines to create synergies that generate maximum results. She is currently the president of KLS Consulting in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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