The key to selling lies in curiosity about the customer, and curiosity is manifested in questions. Paul Cherry wrote a great book called, “Questions That Sell,” in which he hits home how crucial questions are in selling, influencing, persuading, or convincing others. In other words, questions are asked to help others find out whether or not they need the product or service we’re selling. Otherwise, you have no business selling to them in the first place.
Questions Make Us Think
Questions are likely the only communication vehicle that guarantees “mental self-inquiry.” In other words, if we ask someone a question, they have to think in order to answer. Even if they don’t want to answer, their brains will fill in the answer naturally. Some answers (like my name) I can think of quickly. However, in a selling interaction, we want to ask great thought-provoking questions that engender meaningful dialogue.
Questions Make Us Listen
We need to use questions to get the customer to want to listen. Thus, we get them to think differently, which often leads them to act differently. There are some great books on questioning, such as “Spin Selling” by Neil Rackham and “Sales Closing Power” by J. Douglas Edwards. They each give you strong ideas about questions that will make sure you have better conversations.
What Makes Up a Question?
Though helpful, the challenge with most books on Questioning is that they don’t really teach you how to build your own question while you’re sitting in a Panera or Starbucks in between phone calls. It takes a little more digging than that to find the best, most applicable information that will help you break down the 3 parts of a great question: Intent, Content, and Condition. Jerry Acuff VT, my virtual training platform, teaches this question-building formula (I-C-C) comprehensively.
- INTENT: Intent is defined as one’s mindset at the time of a specific action. When I’m asking questions, my mindset is always the same: to understand this person and how they make decisions about my product or service.
- CONTENT: Content is exactly what I want to know.
- CONDITION: Condition is how you will actually preface the question so the customer understands the context and also feels good answering the question, as they sense your intent is pure.
The key to being great at questioning is rooted in these 3 very specific mindsets:
- Be genuinely curious.
- Don’t care what the answers are.
- Make the customer feel safe so they will answer the question truthfully.
Success Relies On Your Questions, Not Your Pitch
Questioning is the most complex and difficult skill to learn in selling, and the more I learn, the more I realize how much more there is to learn. The reality is that your success in selling is dramatically impacted by the questions you ask, not the pitch you make. If you can’t get the customer to think differently, they will never act differently, which is why questions are the answer!
To learn more about what’s included in Jerry’s training on Selling Excellence, click here. Ready to start using the ICC question-building formula and get on the path to closing more sales? Click here.