A little while ago I was conducting a sales-training workshop. We were discussing the importance of asking high-value questions. A participant piped up and said, “What difference does it make what questions we ask? The prospect isn’t going to tell us the truth anyway.”
I have to admit that I was somewhat taken aback by his statement, but it did make me think. There’s no doubt that some people will not tell you the truth during a discovery conversation. However, I strongly believe that this is sometimes caused by the salesperson and his or her actions or behavior.
Prospects are inundated by people trying to sell them the latest and greatest product, and in many cases, they have heard a similar sales pitch from another salesperson. In my experience, many salespeople ask questions that either could have been answered by a quick visit to the prospect’s website or by doing a few minutes of research. Or, they ask self-serving and useless questions, such as “What do you know about our company?,” “Can I tell you about…?,” “If I could show you how you will (save money, increase sales, etc.) would you be interested?” and “What will it take to earn your business?”
In today’s business climate, the people you’re trying to sell to are incredibly busy. They don’t have time to waste on frivolous conversations. They expect you to do some research before you contact them so that you can get to the point and offer something that will help them improve their overall business results.
Too many sales reps still follow the “show up and throw up” approach. They believe that telling is selling. If they actually ask questions, they either ask the wrong questions or they ask them at the wrong time. Or, they ask questions that are designed to get a buying commitment from the prospect.