In Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Red Book of Sales, one of the sections I like the most is the one on power questions. He goes in depth on how to engage your potential client with questions in a way that no one else is. These power questions will make you stand out among others.
When you are trying to close a deal, you need to be able to make the potential client stop, think and engage with you. That’s what power questions do.
What Gitomer says is true: “You become known by the questions you ask”.
Here are Gitomer’s 7.5 power question strategies known to result in success:
1. Ask the prospect questions that make them evaluate new information
When you think about it, the goal is to get the prospect to think outside the box and break away from the normalcy of their day. You want to ask them questions that no one else is asking. They probably have sales people coming through their door every day, so how are you going to break away from the monotony of sales questions and really impress this prospect?
2. Ask questions that qualify the needs of the buyer
Getting a good understanding of what the prospect goes through on a daily basis is so important. It’s about getting them to actually acknowledge their own needs and really break down to the core the specific things they want to accomplish. That’s what qualification is all about. Anytime you can get the prospect to be very clear about their needs and goals, you can hold them accountable for those goals later on down the road.
3. Ask questions about improved productivity or profits
This is where you are getting the prospect to really think about their day-to-day. The idea is to get a feel for the operations of their business. It establishes the relationship and the environment that we want to create with this prospect. Sometimes they will share information that really shows you what kind of business owner they are or what type of boss they are, and that will really help you with the sale.
4. Ask questions about company goals or even personal goals.
Imagine you’re a business owner and someone sits down with you and asks you, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years? How many locations do you hope to have 5 years from now?” Those are questions that will make you stop and think. You don’t have an immediate response to those questions because no one else has asked them. Even though those questions may not have anything to do with you or your business directly, they are the kinds of questions that build that relationship with the prospect. It demonstrates that you really care.
5. Ask questions that separate you from your competition, not compare you to them
You don’t want anyone to think that you are the same as, or even just a little bit better, than your competitors. You want prospects to think of you as entirely different than the competition. We can accomplish this by asking the right questions. You can’t force a buying environment–it needs to be created with the participation of the prospect. Make sure your questions are a whole lot different than what other sales people are asking.
6. Ask power questions that make you customer or prospect think before giving a response.
Questions that make your prospect stop and think prove that you’re getting through to them. Going back to the question “Where do you want to be in 10 years?”, this is the type of question that they don’t have the answer on the tip of their tongue. No one has asked it before, so they can’t just spit out some automatic response. They really have to stop and think about it.
7. Ask power questions that create a buying atmosphere, not a selling one.
Power questions expose the prospect’s needs and get them to shop YOU. You are asking them questions like, “What do you like about our service?” After you ask a question, be silent! Get them to say what they’re thinking. The silence exposes their feelings and their shopper mentality. You get them using the creative side of their brain, exploring your product, and you just sit back and let them talk.
7.5 A critical success strategy is to enhance your listening skills.
As the customer is giving their answers to your BRILLIANT questions, write them down. Writing your customers answers proves that you care, preserves your data for follow-up, keeps the record straight, and it makes the customer feel important.
When the customer sees that you are actually taking note of the things they are saying, you build the relationship and create the buying environment.
Keep in mind, none of this is stuff that will come naturally to you. It takes practice and it takes preparation, but these are very important elements that you absolutely MUST be hitting in your sales presentations.