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Questions_2_300_shadowNever assume. Instead, inquire.

It’s hard to comprehend how many sales were lost today, around the globe, because of a false assumption.

I don’t want this outcome for you. Neither of us do. So, before you go into your next sales call, please do 2 things for me…well, for you really:

  1. Scan your understanding of the prospect or customer for any assumptions you may have, then…
  2. …determine the right questions to ask to confirm what you were assuming.

That’s a good start, but I want to point you a great resource that will help you by giving you some excellent questions which can really open up the conversation. They can turn a sales presentation into a true conversation. It’s what they would prefer, so do it their way.

Co-presidents of RAIN Group, Mike Schultz (@Mike_Schultz) and  John Doerr (@JohnEDoerr), recently wrote a great blog post for the RAIN Selling Blog titled, “21 Powerful, Open-Ended Sales Questions.”

I could not agree more with this premise the authors propose:

… sometimes all you need is to ask one open-ended question and your client will share with you all the information you need to help them.

You may think, “Sure, that’s true once in a while, but not as a typical conduit to getting the sales signed.” What if…what if the right open-ended question could help you gain more sales quite a bit more often than you do now?

I believe this can be the case…and it should be.

This post from Schultz and Doerr offers 21 great open-ended questions you can use, in the right moments, to obtain the most important information you’ll need to get from the opening line to the closing of the sale.

The questions are smartly organized into four categories:

  1. Rapport-focused
  2. Aspiration– & Afflictions-focused
  3. Impact-focused
  4. New-Reality-focused

Without giving away the bacon, here’s a little sizzle, a taste of the questions:

  • RAPPORT: What’s going on in your business these days? How have things changed?
  • RAPPORT: It was good to hear the short version of your background at the meeting, but since we’re out for lunch, I’d love to get the long version. What’s your story?
  • ASPIRATION: Many of our clients are reporting problems with areas A, B, and C. How are these areas affecting you? What do you think about them?
  • IMPACT: If you were to make this happen, what would it mean for you personally?
  • IMPACT: If you don’t solve (insert the particular challenge here), what kind of difficulties will you face going forward? What won’t happen that you want to happen?
  • NEW REALITY: If there were no restrictions on you – money, effort, political issues and so on do not exist – what would you change? Can you tell me why you say that?

The authors make a good point with this statement:

As you ask any open-ended sales questions, bear in mind that the most difficult task is not sounding too contrived. While we’ve suggested wording here in this article, feel free to use the concepts, but make the wording your own when you ask the questions.

If you’ve read this far, and you have, then this topic is at least of some interest to you. I would also recommend this post from @SellingPowerMag: “The Power of the Right Question at the Right Time.”

As for this featured post by Schultz & Doerr, read it all. You’ll not only be able to pick-up a few more great questions to use in your sales conversations, but you’ll also be able to pass on this help so others can learn from you.

By doing that, by sales coaching when that isn’t even your title yet (if that’s the case), then word will spread that you’re the right kind of person who can help grow a sales team. Be proactive.

Don’t look only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others around you. That approach will serve you well. It has for me. You’ll all benefit from it.

QUESTION ::: Do you have go-to open-ended questions you use to get deeper into the conversation/into the funnel? Do you actively search for other questions, better questions, to build your arsenal?

Let’s talk about it…

Click here to download our free guide:
2015 Guide to Sales Optimization: Restoring Sanity to Sales

Read more »



Prospecting_319_shadowThis week’s links cover the topics of sales prospecting, sales coaching, the problem of overselling and additional links to more helpful, relevant resources.

Come back and visit this blog every Friday for my Friday Sales Growth Links feature where I filter online resources to help you grow in your sales career:


PeopleLinx Blog
Expert Selling Tips: Sales Prospecting
Danielle DiStefano (@daniellejdistef, for @PeopleLinx) compiled a list of PeopleLinx’s 6 favorite blog posts, from other sources, specifically about sales prospecting.

KEY QUOTE: Prospecting has figured out what it wants to be when it grows up. No longer is prospecting a surface-level activity, where sales reps make cold calls, pitch the product, confirm interest, and get off the phone as fast as possible.

Also check out the first and second installations in this series of blog post. They are also worth your time. #makeaprospectingbreakthrough
[Reading/Listening Time: 3:00]


MHI Research Institute Blog
Getting Serious about Sales Coaching
Kim Cameron (@kimcameroncso, for @CSOinsights) offers some information from the 2015 Sales Management Optimization Study (from CSO Insights). This peek into the findings reveals a vital need in our industry for more effective sales coaching.

KEY QUOTE: One of the major tasks managers focus on is coaching sales team members – coaching accounts for 21.8% of an average work week. The average salesperson to sales manager ratio came in at 6.2 to 1 (down from 6.7 to 1 in the 2014 Sales Management Optimization study), which works out to 1.4 hours per week spent with each salesperson.

Where does your team’s sales coaching need to improve immediately? How will you do it? #effectivesalescoachingisunderutilized
[Reading/Listening Time: 2:00]


Heinz Marketing Blog: Daily B2B Sales & Marketing Insights
B2B Reads: Ethically Stealing & B2B Sales
Rebecca Smith (for @heinzmarketing) offers her list every Saturday and it’s a blend of consistently helpful sales and marketing links. I’ve been watching this one for a while to see if the consistency is there, and it is. Rebecca does a fine job with this regular feature.

KEY QUOTE: A lot of sales efforts are stuck between efficiency and effectiveness. Figuring out the right balance can be tricky at first.

I highly recommend reading each week’s B2B Reads, and bookmarking this link for archived posts of links. #likeminded
[Reading/Listening Time: 2:00]

Beware the Oversell
I love a good nuts and bolts article about something common to us in the process of selling, and Colleen Francis(@EngageColleen) delivers. Francis expertly dissects and then shows us how to reassemble our selling approach…minus the oversell.

KEY QUOTE: Conversations that are question-based and focused on the client’s needs will ensure you have the criteria to close the deal. By demonstrating you want to deliver precisely what’s asked for, you’ll create a win-win situation for you and your client that can ultimately lead to ongoing sales and service  ̶  as well as referrals.

You may be thinking you’ve heard this all before, but I recommend reading this one from start to finish and discovering what you needed to be reminded of or what you needed to hear for the first time in new words. #neveroversellagain
[Reading/Listening Time: 2:30]


>>  View past posts for Friday Sales Growth Links  <<

Click here to download our free guide:
2015 Guide to Sales Optimization: Restoring Sanity to Sales

Read more »



Story_290_shadowThis week’s links offer a reminder about storytelling in sales, getting away from me, myself and I, a healthy dose of inspiration and some frank talk about price.

Come back and visit this blog every Friday for my Friday Sales Growth Links feature where I filter online resources to help you grow in your sales career:

Storytelling in Sales: Improve Your Sales Success
Exceed Sales (@elisaciarametar) has an excellent guest post by Christopher Kogler (@cakogler) focused on a single example of the power of storytelling for sales professionals. If you aren’t consistently using the power of storytelling…congratulations! I say that because this is low-hanging fruit within your grasp.

Promise me you’ll at least click to read the last paragraph, if you do, I promise you’ll want to go back and read the rest of the piece. #storytime
[Reading time: 1:30]

Sales Wars Blog
“You” Messaging for Better Sales Communications
This guest blog post on “You” Messaging, by Andrew Moravick (@amoravick) for @AberdeenGroup is both a reminder for all of us and a deeper dive into examples of what this kind of communication is and is not.

In my experience, this communication technique consistently works [much better than not using it] in all industries, in all markets, for all types of people and for all types of products and services. Thank you for posting this one @quotafactory. #itsaboutthem
[Reading time: 3:30]


The Sales Hunter Blog
Why Your Sales Team is So Afraid of Price (and What You Can Do About It!)
I really like Mark Hunter‘s (@thesaleshunter) boldness and accuracy on calling out an issue too many sales professionals use as an excuse for not having more sales. Are you willing to read it to see if you’re guilty…even a little bit? His four tips at the end of the post are excellent. #getoverit
[Reading time: 3:00]


21 Inspiring Dale Carnegie Quotes to Rescue Any Bad Day
Vi-An Nguyen, for CloserIQ (@CloserIQ), accomplished two important things with this post. First, no doubt is left that Dale Carnegie is still relevant today. And second, this isn’t just a list of quotes from a single source. She created a resource for those days when you can use some encouragement from someone who knew a thing or two about sales since he knew more than a thing or two about people. #wisewords
[Reading time: 3:30]

>>  View past posts for Friday Sales Growth Links  <<


Click here to download our free guide:
2015 Guide to Sales Optimization: Restoring Sanity to Sales

Read more »