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Selling Techniques: Tips for Questioning Techniques

14 January 2016

With 2017 now well and truly upon us (we are finally confident that we know what day of the week it is), many businesses have moved from reflecting on the past year towards planning world domination for the year ahead.

As professional sales people, it’s an important time to really look to understand the needs of your clients, especially those you have been working with for a number of years, as it is easy to become complacent and assume we really understand what our clients are looking for.

Meaningful questions will provoke thought and help to engage your clients in a conversation that is relevant to them and their business.  Here are five questioning techniques to help improve your selling technique and structure these conversations.

1. The Background Question

So, the first of these questioning techniques is the so-called background question, typically used at the beginning of a conversation; the purpose being to get your client to open up with as much talking as possible.

 The TED Technique can be very useful here:

Tell me about… 

 Explain to me… 

or Describe…

2. The Difficulty Question

As the name would suggest, the idea behind this is to identify any problems or challenges that your client may have. Now, typically of course, if you ask anybody if they are having any problems they may clam up or deny that.

Rather than using negative words such as “problem”, “challenge”, “issue”, it is actually more effective to use more positive language. For example, “How happy are you with your current supplier?” or “How successful was your last campaign?”

3. The Improvement Question

The clue is in the title here. This is a great technique to use, particularly where you already have a really good relationship with a client, so the idea behind this is, “What can we do better?”

This is a really useful way of showing your integrity towards the client and reassures that you are being proactive in making sure what you are offering if of worth to the client.

4. The Clarification Question

This is typically used at the end of the meeting or discussion, albeit not exclusively, and is where you would summarise your understanding of your client’s needs. It’s really important that you don’t go into sales pitch mode until you’ve actually done this. 

Here you are demonstrating that you have listened to the client as opposed to simply hearing them and the summary will assist you in forming your pitch to be specific and bespoke to your potential client’s needs.

5. The Hypothetical Question

Finally, the hypothetical question. This is actually a really good technique to use in the sales pitch itself, particularly where your client may have some concerns or possible objections around using you or your services. So, for example, “If we are able to demonstrate a cost-effective way of delivering the service that met your budget, would you at least be interested in hearing some more?”

Equipped with these questioning techniques, your selling techniques will become more effective, and therefore help you to achieve your objectives this year.

For more tips on selling techniques, or to learn more about our sales training courses,  please call us on 01295 675506 for a free consultation.

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