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Asking better questions has a massive impact on sales performance

Posted by Tony Hall on 12 March 2019
Asking better questions has a massive impact on sales performance

Working with hundreds of B2B sales teams over the past twenty years, it is usual to see that many sales people believe they have great insight about their customers. The big issue is; what is the criteria for "great"?

After we help a team to identify what insights they actually require to be able to deliver real value, the perception of "great" shifts to a perception of "average". So, what's changed?

It's all about perceptions; some people just focus on trying to find out what customers want. Whilst others focus on trying to determine what they need. This drive a whole new level of insight required. The first scenario tends to uncover transactional insights, the second uncovers broader, deeper more strategic insight.

If a sales person wants to improve their sales performance, it usually starts with uncovering deeper insight. Insight that can be used to created initiatives that will deliver real value to the customer.

Being with high performers in sales meetings with their customers is a fantastic experience as you learn what asking good stakeholder-based questions actually looks like. It is remarkable the level of insight a high-performer can uncover by framing up a conversation and asking a great question.

Here's a good starting point:

1. Determine what insight you would like to uncover
2. Develop how you will approach the topic with the customer this is called framing up the conversation
3. Make sure your frame-up includes what you would like to talk about, why you want to talk about it and what's in it for the customer (why it's relevant to them)
4. Then create an open question and practice it before the customer meeting
5. After you have finished with rapport building or banter with the customer; open the meeting with your frame-up and open question then listen intently and ask simple drill down questions (the who, what, when, where, why) to gain a broad and deep understanding
6. Make sure you take good notes and enter relevant insight into CRM straight after the meeting, including your next actions and deadlines

Here's a very recent example from one of our clients:

We conducted a workshop with a sales team which included a case study where teams had to plan and conduct quality customer meetings. One of the more experienced sales people in the group realised that her level of insight could be far deeper. The very next day, she spent some time preparing her frame-up and open question for a meeting with a long-term customer. After the meeting she indicated that she uncovered more insight in that meeting than she had in the previous 6 meetings (over 6 months) with the customer. Talk about leveraging your time effectively.

If you would like to know more about how you can significantly increase your level of insight, contact me at tony.hall@beyond19.com.au or call on 0419 879 699

Author: Tony Hall
About: Tony spent the first 15 years of his career in the retail industry in sales, product management, product sourcing & buying, advertising and general management. The past 20 years he has been in sales & marketing, specialising in sales and sales management behaviours. He has worked with sector leading companies within automotive, banking & finance, capital equipment, construction, retail, insurance, manufacturing, media, professional services and IT industries. As a sales and sales management behavioural expert, Tony has assisted clients to achieve incremental growth, increase market share and profitability through proactive customer engagement and robust go-to-market strategies. He has a strong track record of delivering measurable results for his clients.
Connect via: LinkedIn
Tags: Sales Behaviours

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