What if Your Salesforce Asked Better Questions?

May 29, 2014    |    Brad Holst

My wife and I recently had dinner with a dear family friend who has been an elementary school teacher for over 25 years. She was raving about a book she had just read and about the difference it was making in her classroom. The title was: Make One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions.  In the book, published by Harvard Education Press, a young student describes how empowered she felt from learning this one vital skill.

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It made me think:  If you could make just one change in your salesforce, would it be to ask better questions?

What if your salesforce could avoid unnecessary questions?

Customers, especially the more senior ones, quickly tire of educating sales people about their business and their needs.   

If your sales reps were doing their homework and gathering all the facts, this would enable you to minimize or even avoid what customers often describe as “fact finding sales interrogations” and allow customers to immediately see the value in your sales team’s questions.  

What if your salesforce could ask engaging and stimulating questions?  

It’s not easy to come up with engaging, thought provoking questions that stimulate productive customer conversations.  If it was, every sales person would be doing it. 

By taking time to plan thought provoking questions, your sales reps will be able to differentiate your company and achieve better results. These include asking for the customer’s perspective on the facts you’ve already gathered, getting the customer to share his or her concerns, and mutually exploring what could be possible.

With better question skills, your sales team could ask questions that might make the customer think of his or her business in a new way – opening up business opportunities.

What if your salesforce really listened to understand what your customers have to say?

Your customers need to know that they are being heard. More importantly, they need to know that your sales reps understand where they are coming from.  It’s not enough to just take notes and move on to the next question.  

Actively building rapport and listening by displaying genuine interest, empathy, and concern are key to a customer feeling heard and understood.  It’s possible for your sales team to learn how to listen and respond; thereby, demonstrating that they understand and care about their customers.

If you’re interested in learning more about the book Make One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions, here’s a link to a great little synopsis:  http://hepg.org/hel-home/issues/27_5/helarticle/teaching-students-to-ask-their-own-questions_507#home


Contact us to learn more about Mandel’s proprietary tools and job aids focused on asking thought provoking questions, engaging in high-stakes conversations and planning for conversations.

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