Sales questions for discovery, clarification, engaging prospects or gaining commitments are critical across the entire sales process. Customers never stop thinking, so salespeople should never stop crafting great sales questions that improves the quality of sales conversations.
The goal of sales questions for discovery purposes is for salespeople to have valuable conversations with various customer profiles and adapt the company’s value proposition to the unique situation of each buyer. Great conversations should happen on purpose, not by accident. But to have conversations that win, the sales questions, messages, storytelling, marketing content, and sales skills need to work together.
“In B2B selling only 3% of your market is actively buying at any given time, 57% are not ready and 40% are poised to begin.” – Aberdeen Group
The above percentages support the logic that sales questions must build a bridge to connect with buyers on a personal level, understand what’s important to them, get insight into their thinking, and create better options for them. The importance of asking the right sales questions is vital if a salesperson is to engage in really meaningful sales conversations with prospects or customers.
Sales Questions for Discovery – Attention and Signal vs. Noise
Today, buyer attention is in short supply, they are lost in a sea of more information, advertising, and messages like never before. Sales questions and conversations should be crafted to get attention, be strong signals above the noise. Sales questions that resonate with a prospect’s plans and desires. Mind share and being “top of mind” have never been more prized than they are now. Intelligent sales questions that give a buyer food for thought is a major plank in getting mind share time. So, keep your sales questions relevant and your sales conversations noteworthy.
For sales questions to get above the noise, the starting point is to understanding your customer’s needs, try to imagine the world from your customers’ point of view. Who are they, and what motivates them? What’s their day like? What are their challenges or goals? Is the relationship between seller and buyer more partnership based, purely business or transaction based?
Sales Question to Ask to fill the GAP
Sales questions for discovery must fill the GAP and address what the buyer or decision makers in the company want to accomplish. Sales questions that uncovers the GAP between where they are now and where they want to be? And the GAP in the sales process is nearly always determined by the responsibilities and stance of the decision maker.
GAP sales questions for discovery should be constructed to answer insights such as;
How is the decision maker rewarded, and for what?
What is it that the decision maker has to do to earn the respect and support of his or her superiors and peers?
On what basis, and for what results, does he or she get recognized for?
It can be too easy to forget that one of the deepest subconscious needs of all people is the need for self-esteem, feeling valuable, important and worthwhile. If the series of sales questions can find out what a person needs to do to increase their self-esteem and their perceived value in their organization, and then show them that by using your product or service, they can earn the approval and appreciation of the people around them and above them, they will often be highly motivated to buy what you are selling.
“When engaging with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion.”
Ten things you need to know about your customers
- Who they are.
How long have they been in their role, outside work interests, shared connections, social background, previous roles etc.?
- What they do
Understanding of what their business is trying to achieve, responsibilities, goals, how they are measured?
- Why they buy
Reactionary, planned, early adopters, triggers etc? This helps to match their needs to the benefits your business can offer.
- When they buy
Needs driven? budget driven? solution driven? Seasonal driven? Uncovering buying trends can increase the opportunity to enter into deeper sales negotiation conversations.
- How they buy and select vendors
What is the internal process? Who is on the buying committee? Any criteria a vendor is expected to pass? Terms?
- Do they have budgets or how much money they have
Being able to afford the offering means a buyer can commit to the sales process, avoid chasing dead-ends by discovering does the contact have authority over budgets.
- What makes them feel good about buying solutions
B2B buyers are emotional creatures as well. If you know what makes them tick, you can serve them in the way they prefer.
- What they expect of you as a salesperson and partner
For example, if your customers expect 24/7 support and you don’t disappoint them, you stand to gain repeat business.
- What they think about you
Your personal brand is important. If your customers trust your insights, views you as bringing value and enjoys dealing with you, they’re likely to engage with you more. And you can only tackle problems that customers have if you know what they are.
- What they think about your competitors
If you know how your customers view your competition, you stand a much better chance of staying ahead of your rivals.
Sales Question for Discovery Success
As stated above, in order to get a sale and a customer, you must first understand what your customers want and need and what the differences are between the two. So here is a list of 30 sales questions for discovery and qualification.
What are your short-term goals? Long-term goals?
What does this solution mean to you? What does it mean to your company?
What is your expected outcome from selecting this solution?
What is your boss hoping to accomplish in the next year?
How do your team objectives play into your department’s strategy?
What do you perceive as your greatest strength? Weakness?
How does your company evaluate the potential of new products or services?
Who has your business now? Why did you choose that vendor?
What are your buying criteria and success criteria?
Where would you put the emphasis regarding price, quality, and service?
What level of service are you looking for?
What do you like best about your present supplier? What don’t you like?
What do you look for in the companies you do business with?
What might cause you to change suppliers?
What do you like best about your current system? What would you like to see changed?
What do you perceive your needs to be? How important are they?
If you were me, how would you proceed?
Where do you go to inform yourself of developments?
What factors would influence your decision to consider changing?
What will it take for us to do business?
How soon can we begin?
What is my best shot for getting back the account?
What did we do in the last sale that impressed you most?
What do you look for in your relationship with a supplier?
Who was the best salesperson who ever called on you?
If you could change one thing about your organization, what would it be?
Do you struggle with [common pain point]?
What deadlines are you currently up against?
Which resource could you use more of?
Would you rather cut costs, save money, or increase productivity?
Sales Questions Have A Place in Every Part of The Sales Process
The use of sales questions for discovery and uncovering of opportunities is a major skill every salesperson should master via sales training. However, it takes research, planning, trial and error to gather a list of questions that work for your industry. In your sales skills arsenal, more intelligent and well thought out sales questions will deliver better results across the whole sales process.