Wednesday, September 14, 2011

 

How to get your sales reps to ask better questions

Most B2B sales organizations have migrated to some form of consultative or SPIN selling these days. But even though your sales reps may be asking more questions, what separates good from great sales teams is often the ability to ask the right questions, better questions that more quickly and effectively drive interest, urgency and mobility towards a mutually-successful outcome.

There are many ways to get your reps asking better questions. Here are four:

1. Script needs & pain by role and/or target
Too often in sales we customize our questions based on our product, or their industry. And sometimes, you've done enough homework to know what the company itself is going through too. But the more you understand each individual player in the transaction - their role, their needs, their pain - the better you'll be able to customize your questions specifically to them. Here's a template to get you started.

2. Train consultative & diagnostic skills
Lots of sales organizations talk about consultative selling, but few take the time to not only teach their reps what that means but further translate that theory into specific, practical questions and tools for your specific sale. It's relatively easy to take a particular consultative approach (take SPIN, for example) and quickly outline examples of how to put that in action. Here's a specific example using SPIN, which quickly outlines each of the four stages followed by sample questions for a particular service sale.

3. Practice

Get in the habit of role playing regularly - between manager and rep, peer to peer, and in front of team meetings on occasion as well. If you make these events constructive, reward those who work hard and do well, and share best practices across the team, you'll reinforce the right behavior plus leverage those sessions to identify and spread even better ideas and questions that reps and managers continually come up with on their own.

4. Listen first, and listen more often

Finally, when you do get back in front of your prospect, focus less on asking questions and more on listening. The more your prospect talks, the more you'll learn and the better you'll be able to sell. Don't fall into the trap of asking a first, great question, getting a good answer, then launching into your pitch. You're likely not done with that first question. Ask more questions, better questions, pointed and directional questions, so that the prospect (with their answers) explains back to you what they need, why they need it, and how you might solve or achieve that for them.

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