By Michael Lee, Managing Coach, ShapeUp Sales Coaching, 6/25/18

It’s no secret that sales has changed in more than one way over the last decade and is going to continue to do so, however, there are a few concepts that seem to stay the same. One of those is the power of questions. Most of you are already using a sales process (I hope) and most likely one of the early steps is “needs discovery” or “uncovering needs/wants” or something similar. This is a vital step because you cannot effectively pitch a product to the prospect if you do not know what problem you are attempting to solve for them. Too many salespeople assume that they already know their prospects problems and they go right into selling mode where they start listing every feature and benefit they can recite, hoping that their prospect will immediately see the value and want to buy from them. These “presenter type” salesmen are almost always ineffective and waste time selling for other salespeople that are going to close the deal.

Asking the right questions at the right time is one of the most powerful things that top performing salespeople do best.  The “needs discovery” step is critical to successful selling and should not be skipped. During this step you should be asking open ended questions that invoke creative responses. It will be easy to uncover obvious needs, like a car salesman discovering that a lead probably needs a new car because they pulled up in a busted up piece of junk, however asking a question like, “What are three different things you would like to see in your next car?”, will challenge them to think and uncover unknown information. He might uncover that his family was in an auto accident last year, so automatic emergency braking is very important. The selling situation changes when information like this is uncovered. People buy based on their feelings, so when you uncover hidden motives and wants you are able to sell based on their feelings.

There are other basic buying questions that should be asked through the process like,

  • “How do you plan to pay for this?”
  • “How soon are you looking to move forward with something like this?”
  • “How many decision makers are going to be involved in this purchase?”

Questions like these reveal vital information for you to use during the sales and should be used with your power questions to uncover details you can use to leverage the selling situation. You will have to find which power questions work best for you and your industry, as they’re all different. Learning new questions to ask and constantly practicing using them with prospects will help you master the skill.

There are thousands of these questions, such as:

  • “Imagine this whole process is over and it went perfectly, what did that look like?”
  • “If money was not a factor, what would you do?”
  • “How do you think this (product) will impact your life?”

There are countless books full of highly creative questions that can help any salesperson discover completely unknown needs and wants.  When this new information is used correctly, more sales can be closed than ever imagined.

About the author:

Michael is a sales trainer and coach as well as a public speaker. He works with salespeople of all types to coach them to success. He has personally closed millions of dollars of sales throughout various industries using the exact methods he teaches his clients. Growing up in a military household, he has traveled the world and lived in nearly every region in the United States.  Today he is passionate about spending time with his wife and daughter and enjoying the outdoors anytime possible. Email him with your questions or comments at [email protected]

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