Whether you’re marketing your services, trying to get a new job or looking for a business partner, at some point, you have to face the “S” word… you know, “sales.”

But if that thought scares you, take heart: It’s less daunting than you realize. Selling isn’t the drift toward doom you’re imagining. It’s not about manipulating someone into falling down the rabbit hole with you. It’s the asking of appropriate yet provocative questions such that your prospective client determines for herself that she needs what you have to offer. 

I teach professional salespeople that you can get a client or prospect to tell you anything if you ask the right questions. Contrary to what many of the great sales gurus of the last century preached, closing a sale is (usually) the least important part of the process. If you’ve made a compelling case for your product or solution, closing should be almost effortless. You need only say something such as:

    • “So, should we try this out?”
    • “What do you think the next step is?”
    • “When would you like to begin?” 

From the start, ask questions about consequences—questions that elicit emotions and unearth explicit problems—and you’ll convince your prospect early on, by no crooked means, that he should be working with you. For example, you might say:

    • “How do you feel about that?”
    • “Is it important to you?”
    • “Why is it important?”
    • “If we can fix that, how would that affect you in the long run?”
    • “How would you feel then?”

If you can demonstrate your value via your genuine engagement with your prospect, asking for the sale should be the easiest part of the sales process.

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Sandy Schussel is a speaker, business trainer and coach who helps sales teams develop systems to win clients. He is the author of The High Diving Board and Become a Client Magnet. For more information, go to www.sandyschussel.com.