It’s Not about Controlling with Questions

By John Aberle | Business Lifestyle

Jun 30

Soft sell salespeople ask questions to understand prospects' needs

Soft sell salespeople ask questions to understand prospects' needs

When I first experienced sales training, the trainers sometimes gave me the feeling that questions were a form of cattle prod designed to guide prospects down the chute to the slaughter house. For any soft sell salesperson, that is an unacceptable approach.

In soft sell sales and marketing, the role is that of a trusted advisor or consultant. We use questions to understand, not to control. One of my clients, Scott, shared with me yesterday his excitement about how well open-ended questions worked for him last week. (Note: Open-ended questions ask who, what, when, where, why, how — they invite the other person to talk more and explain her meaning.)

Looking back, Scott realized he went in with no agenda other than getting to know this prospect, someone he’d not made any headway with previously trying to make a sale. Now as a result of asking questions to understand his prospect’s situation, Scott found the man opening up to him. The end result is that the prospect now wants to know how Scott can be of help to him with his challenges.

This point about going in with no driving agenda, like traditional sales calls have, can, from my client’s experience, work wonders. Soft sell salespeople and soft sell marketers look at sales calls and any client or customer interaction as a chance to know and understand their prospects’ concerns. Their goal is to be of service first. The sales flow naturally because people want to buy from those they know, like, and trust.

It’s not about controlling with questions. It’s about showing you care. You do this by asking questions, listening to the answers, and holding off on moving toward the sale. It takes practice to use open-ended questions smoothly and comfortably. One tip is to develop an attitude of really wanting to know what your customer’s challenges are. You will more naturally move into a discussion, which helps to build trust. You help customers buy because you genuinely want to help. The result is more than a sale, it’s a connection, a relationship, that makes selling fun, fulfilling, and mutually rewarding.

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About the Author

My first Kindle eBook, How Relationship Selling Rewards Small Businesses, went live on April 24, 2012. I've lived a lifetime of service and spiritual search so it's natural for me to incorporate these attitudes into my work. I believe that selling and marketing are spiritual service when done with a heart-centered, relationship selling approach. All of business success comes down to building strong relationships.