“Everyone says to ask questions but how do I discover my prospect’s needs or problems without sounding like I’m interrogating her?”
I hear some version of that question on a regular basis. The idea that questions are the key to uncovering opportunities is well established, but many sellers have difficulty applying the principle and some question whether questions are even the appropriate technique.
In a short article such as this, we can’t delve into the topic of questioning in depth but we can address the basic issue of the overall role of questions as a tool in the needs analysis phase of a sale.
Even if we’ve done extensive research and believe we have uncovered an issue or a problem that our prospect may or may not know about but that they need to address, we have to speak with our prospects to discover what their needs and issues are; how important those issues, problems or needs are to them; and whether or not they are interested in investing time and money in solving the issue.
The above is the “needs analysis” phase of qualifying a prospect. We can’t sell if there’s no need or want of our product or service. Consequently, we either have to discover or create a need or want for what we sell.
That’s where questioning comes in, and for many sellers, that’s where the worry about sounding like a CIA interrogator comes in. How can we use questions to discover needs or problems without making our prospect feel that if they don’t answer correctly we’ll pull out the rubber hose?
We’ve all been taught the difference between close-ended and open-ended questions. We’ve been given instructions on when to use which type question. Some trainers have given us formulas; others have given us specific questions to ask.
It’s these detailed guidelines that seem to get many sellers in trouble — that gets their questions to resemble Gestapo tactics rather than a discussion with a prospect.