The best sales question or the best answer. What is your focus? It helps to be knowledgeable, but great questions are more important. A great example that all salespeople can learn from is the mysterious detective Colombo.
The “target” is at ease, but then Colombo strikes. “Just one more thing,” he says. The confident suspect becomes a prospect in a blink and BAM; the perpetrator is out, and you can already hear the sirens. What a preparation and what a beautiful timing.
I think salespeople can learn from this famous and ever-recurring moment. Hilarious, because the plot never changed and we know what is coming..right? In sales, a prospect or a client never can anticipate an excellent question, just like the perpetrator. The element of surprise is always there.
Questioning, in general, is of great importance, but there is a sequence. First learn to ask, know what to ask and then..don’t forget to ask.
Your first sales question
When I started in sales, a sales coach told me, “just ask as much as you can.” And he was right. Of course, the quality of your questions are important but just start with asking first. So I always had seven questions prepared – the number of questions doesn’t matter, but it is something you can control. So Just pick a number.
I used that seven sales questions minimum for many years until I internalized the asking, so it became a habit. There were a lot of tasteless questions, but I always let the customer say ‘stop’ first. At the beginning of the conversation, simple questions are entirely fine.
Know what to ask
Later I learned what and how to ask. I became more of a detective, but never as good as Colombo of course. He has a 100% conversion rate, come on. I believe a lot of salespeople think they are prepared by being knowledgeable, but that’s a lazy mindset.
It’s laziness because to be knowledgeable is about ‘knowing.’ And sales is about understanding. It’s not your answers that matter most; it’s the questions that make you stand out. For great answers, Google beats the hell out of you. More power, bigger memory, more everything. So don’t go into that direction first. People with great questions will control the frame and set the stage for better answers.
To ask the right question is like art. Great questions cause excitement because you disconnected the autopilot and now the conversation can commence.
But let’s talk about timing
You know that feeling just right after a great meeting. You walk with a gentle smile to the car, put on the radio and dream away for a moment. And then suddenly, you ask yourself; Why didn’t I ask that one more question, like Colombo, did?
I will tell you why..
You were focused, you prepared yourself, but you fell in love. Or at least you were equally weak at that precise moment. The meeting was better than expected and your ambition in the last minute dropped to zero. You had some more questions, but It was already a great meeting, so next time right? Maybe not.
Asking is crucial, but it’s the dying seconds that can make a real difference. So don’t forget.
Ah uh. Just one more thing…