Asking the right questions at the right time is critical to high-performance selling. Appropriate-timed probing gives you access to valuable insights that can win the sale. They can also help you deliver excellent customer service once you’ve made the deal.
Vice President of Sales at The Brooks Group, Lisa Rose recently penned an article that highlights a variety of questions that reps can ask to get to the heart of a prospect’s business. Even more importantly, she categorizes questions by timing. “Prospects will be more willing to answer probing questions when the questions are timed well within the conversation,” she explains.
Early in the sales process, reps should use problem questions to uncover a prospect’s true needs and wants. Below are Rose's suggestions:
- How would you describe the problem you’re trying to solve?
- What about this situation keeps you up at night?
- What challenges have you encountered in the past while trying to solve this problem?
- How much is this problem costing you personally?
- What is it costing the company?
- Is there anything else about the situation that worries or frustrates you?
- If there is a current supplier, what are your reasons for considering an alternative?
These can uncover the need your product or service can meet, as well as the buyer’s motivations. Once you know these things, you can then continue to a different set of questions. “Solution questions aim to guide the customer in designing an appropriate solution to their problem, and to understand how your offerings fit into that solution,” Rose writes. “These questions are best saved until after the problem has been clearly established.” She goes on to share the following examples:
- What would an ideal solution look like for you?
- What does a realistic solution look like to you?
- What are the must-have criteria for a solution to work for you?
- What is your timeline for developing a solution?
- What are the qualities you need in a solution provider?
- Would any of these additional products/services/criteria be helpful in your solution?
To find out how to proceed once you’ve decided on solutions for the buyer, check out Rose’s entire article. Her guide to effective probing can position you as a valuable ally to prospects and help you close deals.