8 Must Questions to Ask in Every Sales Situation


Solving people's and organization's problems is ultimately whatbusiness is all about. Effective selling involves defining yourexisting or potential customer's problems. If properly "sold",a sales prospect will have his problems solved with yourcompany's products or services. To be successful at selling, you must systematically approach customers with a provenrepertoire of qualifying questions that allows you to clearlyunderstand your customer's current business challenges.

In order to most effectively solve your customer's problems youhave to ask questions, the "right" questions and mostimportantly, listen to the answers you get. The best source ofinformation about a sales prospect's business problem is theprospect themselves. However, any seasoned salesperson willtell you that the customer does not always know what theirproblem is, how it happened or how to deal with it. Without aproven list of problem definition questions, a salesperson haslittle chance of achieving sales success.

In every selling situation, there are eight fundamentalquestions that must be answered to ultimately generate apurchase commitment, a solution to your customer's problems:

1) Does the customer know exactly what the business problemis? Are they giving you symptoms of a problem or the problemitself?

2) How long has the problem existed? Is this a temporarysituation or an ongoing challenge?

3) What will happen if the problem continues? Short and longterm ramifications should be explored

4) What has been done thus far to address the problem? This answer could be your "door opener" later!

5) What were the results of those efforts to "fix" theproblem? Actions taken and money spent should be quantifiedhere

6) What is the cost thus far of this problem? Here you candetermine what it cost them NOT to have your company'sproducts

7) Are there budgeted funds available to "fix" this problem? If there aren't, why not and will there be? If not, goodluck!

8) Who is involved and how is the purchase commitment to bemade?

You must clearly understand who the decision makers are and howthe commitment decision is to be made. If you do not, therewill always be "someone else" who will kill your deal withinthe organization!

Once you have valid answers to all these questions you canaccurately determine whether the products or services yourcompany has to offer can cost effectively solve your customer'sproblems. If your products or services can solve yourcustomer's problem you now have something to talk about!

Before you begin your sales pitch, your explanation of how yourofferings best meet their needs, be absolutely sure that youhave all the decision makers at your presentation and haveconfirmed the money is budgeted to back up their purchases. Ifall the key decision makers are not present and you are notsure the funds are there to continue the relationship yourprobability of achieving sales success at this customer hasbeen dramatically reduced!

One Final Question: Ask for the Order!

You may be wondering why, "Asking for the order" was not one ofthe "8 Key Questions to Ask in Every Selling Situation"? Whenyou know your product or service can solve your customer'sproblem cost effectively, and it is clear they understand andsincerely appreciate the value of your product or serviceofferings to a level of justification that they can, and will, make a reasonable purchase commitment to you, you have ANOBLIGATION, not only to your company, but to your customer, toask them to buy what your are selling! A simple way to do thisis to ask: "What do you want to do next?" ? say nothing moreuntil they respond.

Effective selling can be as simple as striving to get accurateanswers to these fundamental problem qualification questions. It is most interesting to experience how systematically goingthrough these eight questions with your potential customer willreduce their tendency to generate purchase objections. Also, there is an interesting relationship or "bond" thatdevelops between the salesperson and the customer when they areasked to explain and again experience why it cost so much forthem NOT to have your products or services in their lives!

Today's successful salesperson is a problem solver. How youdefine your customer's business problems can often be asimportant as how you eventually solve their problems. Use thesefundamental problem definition questions as a format for yournext sales call and see what happens. They could be the edgeyou need to get that order you thought you would never get!

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