Asking questions actually serves a few purposes.
First, it enables you to find out what the other person’s perception of value is.
Second, it will disclose any objections that may come up so that you can prepare to overcome them.
Third, it opens the door for conversation which creates rapport.
But most importantly, it identifies the emotional reason why this person would buy into what you are presenting. Remember, people buy based emotion and use logic to justify their actions.
Every time I interview a candidate for a sales position, the first question that I always ask is “In terms of selling, do you consider yourself ok, good or great?” In reality, when it comes to experienced salespeople there is only good or great because the one’s that are ok usually wind up never making any money so they smarten up and move on to something else.
Back to my story, every time I interview a candidate I ask them to rate themselves in terms of how well they sell and while a few are modest and say their good, most consider themselves “experts”. I then pick up my stapler or my cell phone or whatever else is within my reach and I ask these so called experts to sell it to me. Within 30 seconds, I can tell if I am dealing with a true expert or someone who thinks they’re an expert. In most cases, I’m dealing with the latter.
What typically happens is the person picks up the stapler and starts talking about its features and durability and why I should buy it. They think they’re painting a perfect picture. The only problem is they’re painting a picture that exists in their mind; not mine. I then tell them I need to think things over and am not ready to make a purchase today.
They either have no idea what to say next and say nothing or they ask what my objection is and they cannot overcome it because they are not prepared. Aside from that, they have built no rapport and therefore are in no position to start questioning me so they are jeopardizing the sale altogether by doing so.
They should have started out by asking a few simple questions like:
Is this for home or work use?
What is the most important thing you look for in a stapler?
Are you interested in purchasing just one stapler or multiple staplers?
What is your budget?
How important is having a stapler to your business?
If they had done this, they would have:
1.) Identified my emotional reason for buying which will always outweigh my “logical reason” for not buying.
2.) Learned what I considered to be valuable so they could have built the presentation around that, thereby peaking my interest.
3.) Learned of any objections that I may have so that they could prepare to overcome them.
4.) Developed a rapport so that when it came time to overcome my objections they could do so more easily.
The questions that you will ask will vary depending on what product/service/opinion you are trying to sell but they are an essential part of the process nonetheless.