In sales, we learn that questions are critical to our ability to understand our customers and how we might be most helpful. Questions, in addition to eliciting information, opinions and points of view; can enhance both the our customers knowledge and build their confidence in us.
It’s always a thrill to ask a customer a question, hopefully deeply insightful, that elicits a response, “No one has ever asked me this before. In fact, I had never considered it myself. Can you help me understand more?”
But too often, we ask the wrong questions, both we and the customer fail to learn what we might.
And customers are smart, they recognize what we are doing, partly because every other sales person is doing the same thing. And customers don’t care about our goals and purpose, they care about their own.
What are the questions most important to the customer? What are the one’s they most care about? What are the one’s that challenge them to think differently, to learn, to question their assumptions?
Even if they don’t know the answers to the questions—which is probably the case—these are the questions that are most important to them. And if they don’t have the answers, they will engage you in helping them discover the answers.
The questions that customers care about and want to discuss includes questions about what they are trying to do and why? Questions about what others are doing and how it impacts them? Questions about what would cause them to be more successful and the things that may be standing in the way of their success. Questions about how they feel about the change, what it means to them, how they feel about the risks?
The questions they care most about are about the things they don’t know they don’t know. Without first learning what they might be, understanding why they are important, and learning how they might determine the answers, they are likely to be blindsided.
The questions customers care most about are about the things they don’t know they don’t know.
Questions about how they will reach consensus and what that means. Moving them from their individuals goals to aligning around a group goal. Then questions to understand what how achieving that common goal impacts each of them.
The questions they care about are the things that help them. And through discovering the answers, they and we learn how we can best continue to help them.
When ask all the wrong questions, and we deserve the answers we get.
When we help the customer discover, then answer the right questions, then we and they have earned the answers we discover.
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.
Find out more about Dave Brock on LinkedIn