Insider Questions for Game-​Changing Consultative Sales Approach Results

BY Jessica Helinski
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Questions are a cornerstone of a consultative sales approach. But sellers need to ask the right questions to make their efforts effective. “In consultative sales, your ability to ask relevant questions is unparalleled,” according to the professionals at Mailchimp. “And when you ask the right question, you'll create endless opportunities.”

Why is a consultative sales approach successful?

Buyers are no longer willing to work with pushy sellers or someone who doesn’t value them or their business. As SalesFuel reports, this strategy differs from old-​school sales approaches: 

Traditional selling involves reps focusing on their product, its features and its benefits. 

Needs-​based, or consultative, selling focuses on the buyer, including their needs, goals, pain points, etc. It is based on the relationship between the buyer and seller.”

How “Striker Questions” factor in

To be able to connect, understand, and strategize with buyers, sellers must use questioning as part of a consultative sales approach. But Harry Kendlbacher, CEO and managing partner at Global Performance Group, recommends a particular type of questioning. Writing for Selling Smarter, Kendlbacher discusses how the right questions uncover challenges and opportunities that competitors and current vendors haven’t. This provides the competitive edge. 

We call this the ‘Striker Question’ technique,” he explains. ”We call it that because, if executed correctly, the salesperson can strike below the surface of the buyers’ wants to get to the core of what the buyer actually needs.”

Types of effective Striker Questions for consultative sales

Just like any type of questioning, it takes thought and time to come up with Striker Questions. This step is crucial to a successful consultative sales approach. To begin, you need to understand the various types of these questions. Kendlbacher shares common types and how to use them:

  • Validating: Quantify or confirm what the customer is trying to achieve
  • Challenging: Force a “reality check” using market data, benchmarks, leading-​edge research, or past performance
  • Shocking: Explore the worst-​case scenario of the status quo, or, if they make the wrong decision, the worst possible potential outcome
  • Ranking: Require customers to prioritize their needs, developing a wish list that ensures they don't make decisions for the wrong reasons
  • Comparing: Help the customer look at different results and create a hierarchy of best ROI/​best value decisions
  • Futurizing: Identify future impact by asking questions that focus on what ideal results look like – giving you and your customers the information needed to make the right decisions today

How to adapt these questions to each prospect

Another key to consultative selling is personalization, so it’s important to craft questions that are personalized to prospects and their business. And Kendlbacher encourages sellers to not shy away from hard-​hitting questions that really make the prospect think — and challenge them. 

Paul Petrone, LinkedIn, agrees. “The reason why you want to challenge your buyers is you want to be seen as a strategic partner to them. It’s impossible to be that strategic partner if you rubber stamp everything they say and never challenge their assumptions – because, then, you really aren’t helping your buyer grow.”

Get inspired by taking a look at this collection of deep-​dive questions. And don’t forget: the consultative sales approach requires empathy. Show the buyers that you care, especially when you ask questions that may be tough to answer. Genuinely coming from a place of kindness makes all the difference. 

It all begins with the right research

So now that you understand the value of Striker Questions in this approach, it’s time for the first step: research. Conducting thorough research will give you the insights and context needed to start crafting quality questions. Take a look at SalesFuel’s detailed guidance, including free access to the e‑book “The 7 C’s of Pre-​Call Intelligence.”

Photo by Alexander Suhorucov