Sunday, April 6, 2008

Knowing How To Ask Questions Makes All the Difference

Asking questions is an art. It is coachable but not extremely teachable. I can take someone who has an innate ability to ask questions and teach them how to be a great salesperson – regardless of their current line of work.

In fact, I often look for new home salespeople outside of real estate, and the first quality I look for is the ability to ask questions.

I want someone who enjoys working with people because that’s how the questioning is effective. Otherwise, it can come across as superficial and detached.

Product knowledge can be learned. Sales skills can be taught. Asking questions is either something you understand or it isn’t.

For instance: “How long have you been looking for a new home?” “What would you like to accomplish during our time together today?” “When you find a home that you’d like to live in, how soon are you prepared to make a decision on that home?” “Is there anything else we need to discuss before we start the paperwork?”

I left out dozens of questions, but you can see that just having a conversation with your customers can be a very effective sales technique.

We tend to complicate the sales process. It simply is a matter of meeting interested people who need or want a new home, learning what they’d like to achieve in getting a new home, determining their ability to make a purchasing decision, showing them choices and explaining how their needs can be met, identifying a specific solution for them, and helping them finalize their selection.

For the most part, this process is accomplished through a series of skillfully used questions – not done as a survey, but as a conversational give-and-take interview that you use to meet and get to know someone.

Critical path, working with objections, features and benefits, closing techniques – all important concepts but none as important as the art of asking questions. How do you know what to show someone, and how do you know that they understand and appreciate what you’re showing them, and how do you know that it’s important or that it matters to them? You have to ask.

* For more information about my consulting and coaching services visit my website

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