Series' of touchpoints can do a lot of account management and sales for you.
Touchpoints in 'background' + improved questioning model = success.
Because client knows you're attentive (because of touchpoints) and because you ask more and better questions they'll think you know a lot more than you may actually do!
The most important things you own
are the most important things you own as a salesperson.
In 10 years pitching and selling, I have never had to 'ask for the order'. In fact, I've only ever seen one order form in my life.
This is because:
I ask the right questions.
It's that simple.
Prospects ask me how should THEY complete the order.
Managing Directors & Business Owners:
"Are you brave enough to do something like this?"
Senior Managers & Ambitious people:
"Would you like to be known as the person that brought this into the business?"
What's In it For Them?
Most salespeople - even ones that are periodically successful - rarely think about this.
Think about your recent calls and meetings - what was in it for them?
"What's the best way...?"
is a great, 'catch all' question that should be used much more often by sales people and those who deal with prospects and clients.
It's very hard not to comply with a question that starts this way. It's hard for someone to say "NO". Only the most savage, rude or extremely busy people find ways to not answer a question like this.
Try it now on me...
“All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.”
- Bob Burg
During meetings in the past, I have:
Dropped the 'C-bomb'.
Shouted at prospects
Walked out of a meeting, claiming one of the prospects ludicrous.
Told prospects that hated their product...
and each time I WON the business. Why?
Because in the first 15% of the meeting, the impact that I made was so strong, that much of what was said after this period was just icing on the cake.
Getting the first 15% of a pitch or meeting correct - by asking the right questions - can make you feel much more free to be yourself during the remaining time.
General, useful information about the importance of questions.
Example of the power of questions in a consultative environment:
Wachovia's sales tactics were:
Cold calls asking for appointments to introduce new products
For every 100 calls, they attained 10 visits and closed 2 on average, taking 11 months.
They changed strategy to this question (rather than trying to get meetings):
“Hi. My name is John. I’m a small business banker at Wachovia. I hope this is a good time to speak. I’m wondering how you’re getting your financial needs met when your current bank can’t get you the resources you require.”
With this strategy, 37 businesses from 100 calls asked them to visit and Wachovia closed 30 sales within 12 weeks.
Getting great responses from 'cold' emailing, or emailing people you have already spoken with can be had with great questions.
For example, if you sent an email to a prospect, and started with...
"What's the best way..."
you can create emails that have great response rates, and lead to much greater conversations.
To many, emails are deemed a useless sales tactic...but they haven't understood the power of great questions.
ONE question changed the entire course of a relationship.
The question itself was innocuous, but it gave the prospect lots of inspiration, which made him talk...and talk and talk...
He talked so much, he told us everything we needed to know.
He thought we were very interesting...but we really only asked one question.
A meeting with the managing director of Capita was something that he had granted only after lots and lots of harassing.
He had hardly heard of the company.
We began to tell him who we were, and he started to realise that he knew us all along. He mentioned that he had a young team of project managers.
The meeting was a solid 6.
and then...the question...
"How do you know that your team are making the correct decisions when hiring in the right IT/AV equipment for events."
Which made him think....really think. He got very nervous.
He eventually asked us to help him hire new project management staff!
Some examples of the power of questions and their success.
Open questions gather data – pull information out from someone who has already made a decision on this topic and is sharing their choices with the questioner.
In sales, sellers typically ask open questions so they can determine ‘need’ or understand where the ‘pain’ is so they can better position their product.
Facilitative Questions are systems based, and not reliant on content. They follow the sequence of how decisions are made (generically) and lead the questionee through their systemic (and usually unconscious) thoughts.
How do you currently xxx your yyy? How is that working for you?
Is anything missing? Is there something further you'd want but aren't getting?
What's stopping you from getting what you want from your xxx?
How are you currently set up to fix this problem with the current resources you've got in place (i.e. current vendors)?
What's stopping you from using your current resources (vendors) to fix the problem?
What would need to know in order to consider doing something different from what you are currently doing?
She was courted by several banks and institutions and eventually worked with Barclays, having insisted to sit at the table with no less than 14 key people at the bank when negotiating her contract.
Her Buyer Facilitation intellectual property has been leased to Barclays for almost 20 years and is used every time a customer has purchased something of a consultative nature in that time.
She receives a six figure sum each year for exclusivity.
Buyer facilitation is extremely powerful.
Best-selling author, sales genius, and sits on very exclusive think tanks with Neil Rackham (who thinks she's a genius).
Sales coaches today think she is nuts.
Which is exactly why she is a genius.
Created by sales genius, Sharon Drew Morgen, Buyer Facilitation is the process of asking questions and talking in a way that helps to ensure that you get to sit at the same table as your potential customers when they are in the decision making process.
Not simply selling them something when they have already started down a decision path - which may not be to your, or more importantly their benefit.
How much kudos would you gain if this stand was chosen as having the best technology at the event?
If you could cut down on the amount of time you spend thinking about IT/AV around events would it generally make them run smoother?
Will the owner of the business notice the event has gone well and be impressed by you?
If we could minimise the amount of lost leads by 10% a quarter, how much increased revenue would that bring to your organisation?
If you could cut the amount of time spent training new staff on your CRM, what impact would that have?
If your equipment didn't look amazing then what would be the impact be on your brand?
How would you be affected if your equipment went down onsite during an event?
If attendees are going to be interacting with the equipment, does robustness play a factor in your IT/AV hiring choices?
If the event didn't give you enough power outlets or internet access on the day of the event, would this cause problems?
What reliability problems does your equipment have now?
What disadvantages do you have with your current AV supplier?
What's the biggest problem you've had so far dealing with your current supplier?
What problems occur when setting up your event?
Do you find it time consuming switching between IT/AV suppliers?
Do you need to know that the IT/AV company you use to hire knows the venue inside out?
How do you currently manage your IT/AV Needs?
Is it important to you knowing that your equipment is secure during your event?
How many delegates are you expecting at your conference and how many will be using technology?
What type of AV are you using at the moment?
Tell me, whats the one thing you could not live without at this event?
How many times a year do you hire equipment?
How do you currently manage and role out E-learning content?
Do you find it time consuming rolling content out traditionally?
If content creation is very time consuming how might that affect the workflow of the trainer or L&D Manager?
If you could house your content in one platform, so all training material has the same look and feel, would this help you to produce a much better training solution?
IT Rental Company Questions
How do you currently manage your IT/AV needs?
Do you find it time consuming switching between IT/AV suppliers?
If your IT/AV equipment doesn't look brilliant, what would be the impact on your brand?
If you could get people to think that you had the best, shiniest AV equipment, would that help your profile in the industry?
Real examples of questions to use in the SPIN model.
This HiveMind was created by James Welch to help salespeople and account managers to understand the benefits of using a better question model to sell more.
By using the examples on this HiveMind, including SPIN Selling techniques and the excellent techniques from Sharon Drew Morgen, salespeople can dramatically improve their effectiveness.
Questions seeking facts
Situation questions form the starting point for your conversation. By asking situation type questions, sales reps can develop an understanding of context to uncover the buyer's problems. In turn, this background information can be used to guide the conversation in an appropriate way.
The key to succeeding with situation questions is to do research IN ADVANCE of the conversation, so you can avoid boring prospects with questions where the answers are common knowledge.
The MORE situation questions in a sales call/meeting, the LESS likely that you will succeed. It shows that you have not prepared.
Ask about difficulties and dissatisfactions the buyer experiences which in turn you can overcome.
If you can get a customer to acknowledge there’s a problem that needs to be fixed, they’re far more likely to give you the attention you need.
Problem questions achieve just that, by probing to discover what’s causing your prospect pain.
In addition, problem questions are highly effective at encouraging a prospect to identify an issue that’s been overlooked.
e.g. "What prevents you from making a sprocket that gets returned less by customers?"
By asking problem questions, you can get ready to 'pounce'.
The purpose of this third set of questions is to make the customer eager for a solution to the problem(s) they’ve just identified.
Smart, implication questions will make the customer identify (for themselves) the effect, consequences and impact of that problem going unchecked.
In short, in order to encourage a prospect to consider your solution in any seriousness, they need to have a firm grasp on how serious the problem is.
Example: If training on your CRM is costly and time-consuming, what does that mean for new reps when they start?
Implication questions induce pain. They add consequences if action is not taken.
Need-Payoff questions get the buyer to tell you about their explicit needs and benefits of your offering at the same time.
The secret to getting results with need-payoff questions is to ensure the buyer specifies the benefits themselves. So encourage them to visualise and imagine what would be different with that problem gone.
Need-Payoff questions are a mirror image of implication questions. Implication questions give people pain, Need-Payoff questions help them to use your remedy.
e.g. If users of your CRM needed little training, would this help save time and money?
Neil Rackham and his company, Huthwaite, conducted the largest-ever study of professional selling – observing more than 35,000 sales calls in over 20 countries, at a cost of $40 million in today’s dollars.
100’s of the largest companies in the United States, including IBM, Xerox, AT&T and Citicorp, have engaged Neil Rackham as an advisor on sales performance.
More than half the Fortune 500 train their salespeople using sales models derived from his research
James was here
When selling a car to a bank robber...
See the difference:
"This is a very fast car"
"This is a very fast car that helps you to get away from slower police cars on high speed chases."
Think that benefits help to sell? Then you should understand the power of advantages!
Benefits - expanding the relevance of the service product
Advantages - explain the features of the service or product
Simply put, the more questions that people ask per call or per meeting, the greater success those people have.
Data over 30,000 sales calls more than proves this.
Those questions include serious business questions, questions about children, and 'closed questions', despite what you may have heard about closed questions being a 'no no' during sales conversations.
Your goal is to be 'sat at the table' with your customer
and decision makers.
This is almost impossible unless you are a 'true consultant'.
Your questions and how you approach your prospects HAS to be different than it has been.
Picture the typical 90's pinstriped suit-wearing salesman with cheesy smile, red braces and white shirt.
That's probably you (in the mind of the wary prospect), whether you like it or not. Asking the right questions moves you well away from that vision.
ALDI, LIDL, Primark, Greggs
M & S, Waitrose, Savile Row Tailors, The Ritz
MIddle of the road Businesses:
Tesco, Morrisons, Burtons
Questions should be focused on things that will benefit both yourself and the prospect.
Almost ubiquitously, questions from salespeople are for them to gain more information. Take these for example:
"Who do you currently use for your IT/AV?"
"How many shows do you attend per year?"
"Are you requiring IT equipment for your stand?"
How is this helping the customer? At best, you're just taking their time up.
Why not try...
"How do you currently manage your IT/AV needs"
"Which shows are your most successful"
" What do you hope would make this exhibition better than last years"
Selling in the 2010s is actually helping prospects to make a more informed decision about what they need.
If your words, thoughts and questions are not based on helpful statements, then you are missing out on lots of commission.
The VAST majority of the time, customers DO NOT know exactly what they need.
They DO NOT want to be sold to.
So...they don't know what they need, and they don't want to be sold to...
...means that the way to help them to help themselves to make a decision is by asking them questions that make them REALLY think.
Your competition has grown in the last 5 years.
Your competitors are not now just local, they're national and international.
You have 5 times more competitors than you did 5 years ago.
Prospects can now find 20 times more information about your company than they could 5 years ago.
If you are using the same tactics, you will be winning less business due to increased options and information available to buyers.
Introduction to the power of questions.
Questions are the most important tool in a salesperson's toolkit.
Understanding the importance of questions has a direct link to the success of any salesperson in both consultative and transactional businesses.