We all think we’re good at asking great questions.
But are we really?
Asking great questions during the sales process matters. Why?
Well, to create a differentiated sales experience, we need to be able to provide value.
But not what we think is valuable — what our buyers think is valuable.
And to figure out what is their idea of value, we’ve got to ask questions. Good questions.
Studies have shown that sales reps who asked 3 questions for every statement they made had a 2 or 3x higher close rate than those reps who didn't ask as many questions.
So, how can you make sure you’re asking great questions?
Well, that’s what Chad Sanderson is talking about on this episode of the Lead to Grow podcast. Chad is the Managing Partner at ValueSelling Associates. He shared his thoughts on how to ask great questions to create a truly differentiated sales experience for your buyers.
Check out what he had to say.
Buyer Expectations Are Changing
First, let’s talk about why we need to provide a differentiated sales experience in the first place.
Buyer expectations are changing.
Think about how the purchasing experience for younger generations of consumers differs from that of past generations.
Today, consumers use services like Amazon Prime because it's a seamless experience. It’s easy, quick, and the product shows up the next day.
These consumers live B2C lives and then they go back into their jobs taking those expectations with them into their interactions with B2B salespeople.
They want the B2B sales experience to be just as frictionless as ordering from Amazon Prime.
So, what do we mean by a frictionless sales experience?
The Optimal Sales Experience
Anybody who has any kind of mobile app is a recipient of an optimized customer experience.
If you think about your Amazon, Instagram, or Facebook app, that experience has been optimized through design to reduce the friction between you and that company.
What they want is to create an experience that is engaging and that gives you value in ways that you want.
When we talk about the optimal, frictionless sales experience, it's basically the same thing with one exception — it's all human to human interaction.
So, if consumers are looking for this type of differentiated experience in B2B interactions, we need to replicate it.
And the way we do that is by uncovering what each buyer’s perception of value is.
When we talk about differentiation, we're talking about, not what we think is valuable, but what the customer thinks is valuable.
We have a tendency to train our marketing and sales teams to push our perception of value on customers rather than take the time to truly understand what is the buyer's perception of value and how we can connect to it.
This is where people struggle.
We don’t know how to uncover someone else's perception of value and strategically connect it to what we can bring to the table that's different from anyone else. And we certainly don’t know how to do that in a consistent and scalable way.
So, how do you do it?
The Key to Differentiation is Asking Good Questions
You have to ask questions. Good questions.
There are three main components to the strategic questioning process.
First up are open-ended questions. Before you work these into your conversations, make sure you understand a few things: Why do we ask these questions? What does an open question sound like? And what does it look like?
Second, you need to use probing questions. These questions allow you to provide insight that will expand someone's view of a problem set to include things you know only you can solve. They can also help to expand a buyer’s view of the desired solution to include only capabilities you have.
Finally, you need to confirm what you’ve heard. Repeat what you think you heard to make sure you’re understanding what the buyer is truly trying to communicate.
This process sounds so simple. But a lot of people really struggle with it because our brains want to jump so quickly to the solution.
As soon as we hear someone talk about one problem they have, we're already calculating commission.
This process takes patience. Try to really listen and uncover your buyer’s problems.
You can only really provide value when you know what value means to them.
If Someone Had Lunch With You, What’s the Key Thing You’d Want Them to Walk Away With?
This is my favorite question to ask each guest. Here’s what Chad had to say:
“A true sense of my authenticity and honesty. You wouldn't need a whole lunch to figure out that I'm going to give you what I honestly believe my perspective is now, based on my experience. But I am always open to changing that perspective if I am provided with additional input. I’m not afraid to have those conversations or have myself challenged.
And I don't have a hidden agenda. I'll tell you right up front, here's what I'm looking for in this exchange, what are you looking for? Let's make sure this is valuable for you.
I'm one of those people who has a tendency to ask, how can I be of service to you? So I have a tendency to help and help and give and give because I figure at some point it's all going to come back.
And that’s what I’d hope someone would walk away knowing.”