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Use Purposeful Questions to Close More Sales

May 8, 2015

Posted by

Nathan Jamail

Nathan Jamail, President of the Jamail Development Group and author of "The Sales Leaders Playbook," is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur and corporate coach. As a former Executive Director for Spr Read more

Agents and sales teams all over the country are looking to increase sales despite today’s economic situation.  Successful ones have found that there is no “golden answer” or “trick play” that is going to produce sales in today’s market.

To increase sales today requires that you first stop looking at today’s economy as an obstacle and start finding its advantages.  Some well-known phrases, such as “for every pro there is a con” or “for every no there is a yes” and a favorite, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” demonstrate how one person can see something as a negative, while another sees it as an opportunity.  Well here’s a new one:  “The economy is always a challenge, but what stops one person moves another.”  In short, the economy is not the problem; the problem is when a sales individual or team does not change their game plan to win the game, (known as sales).  The game has changed and those who prepare, practice and execute will win, while the others will be on the bench waiting for the next game.

Purposeful Questions

Salespeople across the globe have gone through sales trainings, often called many different names, yet all with basically the same steps.  In most selling skills trainings they will discuss how to ask the right questions, how to ask open-ended questions, and how to ask leading questions.

Here is what we teach:  Ask purposeful questions.  A purposeful question is one that will help the prospective customers understand and express their current needs and wants, their goals and desires, all of which will result in assisting the sales professional to help the prospect achieve those goals and desires.  The right questions can probe a seller’s motivation to sell or a buyers motivation to buy. The right questions can help both agent and client clarify their real needs and wants.  Questions should not be asked just to fill or kill time, to try and hit a certain number or to pretend to build rapport; they should have a purpose, and that purpose is solely to achieve understanding. 

Write Questions Down

A coach would never go to the game without his play sheet and, thankfully, a pilot would never fly a plane without a checklist.  Then why do salespeople constantly go on appointments without their questions written down?  Salespeople always have the same reasons:  “I have the questions in my head;” or “I have been doing sales for so long I know them all;” or the classic, “If I go with questions in hand it looks insincere or unprofessional.”

A salesperson should be so familiar with their questions that they don’t have to read them, but having written questions can help keep them focused and on track.  It shows the prospective customer that the sales professional cares and is diligent in his or her preparation.  If having questions written down would increase a sales professional’s closing ratio by thirty percent, would it be a good idea?

Beginner’s Luck

Ever notice that when a company has a new sales professional it seems that he or she has beginner’s luck and closes deals quickly?  Is it really luck or is it because they are new and they take the proper steps to make sure they use all the tools that are provided to them -- without skipping any steps?  In many cases the greatest weakness of veteran sales professionals is their very experience.  Because of their experience, they tend to start skipping steps and “winging it.”  Confidence is the greatest attribute of a successful sales professional, but it is also the number one reason some professionals stop improving. 

If a sales team wants to increase sales, they must remember to practice and prepare with modesty, and close with confidence.   For me, the definition of success is when preparation meets timing.