You’ve probably heard the old saying, “Curiosity killed the cat.” When it comes to sales, I think it’s time to amend that saying. In sales, curiosity is perhaps the most important value to nurture. We’ve all know the stereotype of the pushy salesperson who only cares about closing the deal. Well asking your prospects questions that demonstrate curiosity about their business drivers is the fastest way to distinguish yourself from that stereotype. So I’d like to suggest a new saying, “Curiosity closed the deal.”
It’s a new year, and for 2015 I’d like to challenge you to be more sales-curious than ever. After all, asking your prospects the right questions doesn’t only show that you’re interested. If you’re strategic about asking questions, you can actually use pointed questions to move deals toward closing.
Your sales team should be keeping track of which competitor’s you are consistently going up against. This enables enables you to strategize ways to go up against particular competitors. When competitors mention a particular competitor, keep a record in your CRM. Here at RingDNA, we set up a field in Salesforce for our reps to quickly log deal competitors. Our sales and marketing teams can then create reports that show which competitors we are winning and losing to. But prospects aren’t always going to mention your competitors. So don’t be shy to ask if they’re looking at other solutions.
It’s absolutely vital to truly understand how your product can best help a prospect. You may be selling the same product to different customers, but each customer may use it differently. There may also be different reasons why a customer would need your product to begin with. As an example, we have a lot of clients using RingDNA in the healthcare industry, but our healthcare customers are using RingDNA for different reasons than our customers in the tech industry are. Even two healthcare companies aren’t likely to use RingDNA in the same way. The same is true for your company. That’s why you need to discover why your prospect needs your solution and how your solution can best support their business drivers. Taking the time to understand your customers’ business pays off big time.
Last year, we released an eBook entitled Socratic Sales: The 21 Best Sales Questions for Lead Qualification and Accelerating Sales. The eBook discusses how the philosopher Socrates helped his students arrive at an epiphany by asking a series of pointed questions. This “Socratic method” of teaching is still used widely by educators and therapists. But we think it may be most applicable to salespeople. Far too many salespeople just launch blindly into a sales pitch. But virtually all of your prospects would vastly prefer to have a conversation about how your product or services can add value than just listen to a pitch.
Asking the right qualification questions not only helps you establish suitability, but also arms you with information you can use to move deals forward. By asking questions about your prospect’s needs, authority, implementation timeframe, and budget, you can gain vital information that you need to close deals. For example, after establishing a prospect’s pain, one of my favorite follow-up questions is: “So in addition to yourself, who at your company is facing these problems?” Your prospect’s answer to this question will tell you who else may be a stakeholder in your deal.