Shane Gibson is the author and facilitator of Jelly Academy’s B2B Sales Specialist Program. In his humble opinion, “The art of asking questions,” is the most important module of the course.
So what is the art of asking questions? Well, it really is how it sounds. Asking questions is an art form that allows for sales specialists to improve relationships with clients. And these improved relationships result in increased sales.
Let’s dive deeper.
From Robotic Selling to Authentic Human Interaction
Many notable sales training and coaching programs have historically focused
on getting to a decision maker, confirming they have a budget, a need, and the
authority to buy, then selling them the benefits of a product or service. Shane notes that these approaches do work, but draws awareness to a more human way of selling: asking questions.
Shane says that in order to elevate both ourselves and our brand above the competition, we need to stop selling, and start leading the conversation. Business decision makers often have little time in their schedules for salespeople, but they do make time for business people in their network that create value.
Shane also notes that prescription without diagnosis is malpractice. This means that before we present our solution to a client, we need to learn about our client. Some important topics to uncover include likes, dislikes, fears, beliefs, problems, and so forth. How do we learn these answers? By asking questions.
But Question Asking is More Than Asking Questions
Shane believes that sales conversations must have structure in their flow, and flow in their structure. This means that real conversations are more than having a list of questions to ask a prospect in a discovery call. It’s also about how the questions are asked, and how we follow up. If the prospect goes a different direction with their answer, are we prepared to flow with it? This considered, do we also have a plan or structure to get the conversation back on-track?
When we ask the right questions, in the right sequence, we can get the client to discover and tell their story in their own words. The conversation evolves to a partnership where you collaboratively design an outcome together. Shane says this transforms you from pitch artist to valuable advisor.
The Discovery Cheat Sheet
Prior to building your Needs Analysis or Discovery Questionnaire, you need to identify where you want the conversation to end up. What insights need to be shared by the client? What shift in thinking are you looking to create?
Enter the Discovery Cheat Sheet.
For each of your target markets or client types, make a list of the common challenges, problems, goals, and outcomes. Then develop a series of questions that will help the client talk about these challenges, quantify the outcome, and ultimately, connect it to your solution if there’s a fit. Most of your questions will start with identifying the problem, challenges, and goals, and then eventually flow to the positive impact on the business if they make a change.
Leveraging your Needs Analysis
Shane says the #1 rule of a Needs Analysis is to not sell during it. The minute we react to a client's answer by talking about our company or product, we shut down the information flow.
There are countless benefits of leveraging a Needs Analysis to support question asking. A number of them include:
The Needs Analysis Questionnaire, done properly, focuses the salesperson on listening. Most salespeople would rather talk.
The client explores areas about themselves or their company that they might have neglected. The customer thinks.
Pertinent questions by the salesperson are not missed because they are sitting in front of the salesperson and the Needs Analysis questionnaire/survey.
If the questionnaire is well designed, it comfortably leads the client into more sensitive and confidential areas like financial information.
Sufficient information is gathered to enable a salesperson to intelligently consult the client as to what to do or buy.
The suggestions and sales points will often be tied to a specific point made by the client during the questionnaire.
The art of asking questions is an unforgettable module that reveals why asking questions is so transformative from a sales perspective. This blog post merely outlined a few of the important topics Shane dives into, so we highly recommend taking the course to gain a comprehensive understanding.
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