Questions are a big part of sales. They are what drive a sales process forward with a prospect. It is also the opportunity to give value to a conversation and gain insights on your prospect. Asking tough questions can be daunting for any sales professional, but it pushes a prospect to think about their situation differently. And it pushes the prospect to think about solving the problem and what that solution might be.
So why do we not ask tough questions?
It boils down to the fear of challenging the norm, upsetting change-resistant influencers and potentially offend decision-makers or the budget holder. As salespeople, we are afraid to lose deals. We choose not to ask tough questions because we think we will lose the deal, but ironically, not asking the questions is why we lose deals.
Uncover a prospect’s reason to buy
Asking tough questions is a big part of the consultative selling process. Not asking questions is not selling. Part of a salesperson’s job is to change a prospect’s point of view through tough questions.
But to ask tough questions, you need to have two tools under your belt.
1. Get permission to ask tough questions
The key to challenging a prospect on something is to ask for permission first. It may be an outright ask, or you may want to warn the prospect that you intend to ask them some challenging questions and if they are ok with that.
Sometimes it may be as simple as saying “I want to ask you a tough question” or “I want to ask you a question, but I am worried that it will upset you.” Let the prospect decide if they want to be asked a question. Curiosity is a funny thing, and most prospects will want to know what you are going to ask them.
2. Ask for forgiveness when you do upset your prospect
Most of the time, your prospect will not take offence if you phrase the question right. If you think you will offend, then be prepared to ask for forgiveness.
You might have a natural way of asking for forgiveness. But if not, here are a few examples:
“I feel like I upset you, and it changed the tone of our call. Did I offend you?”
“Did I offend you with the question I just asked?”
If you mess up, it is nearly always salvageable. If you take a moment to explain where your question came from. A quick explanation can undo the upset. “I certainly didn’t mean to upset you, let me take a minute to explain why I asked you that question.”
By using the permission and forgiveness techniques, you will sail through asking tough questions. So next time you are on a call with a prospect, are you going to ask the tough questions?
We understand the demand for quality leads and the need for your team to meet those demands. We are here to help and add value by finding tangible, highly qualified leads where we have secured a date and a time for an appointment. These individuals are in your target audience, at the right decision-making level and have an interest in your solution. Taking away this pressure from your Sales team allows them to focus their time on closing deals and generating revenue.