The most important part of the sales process is questioning. Presenting without questioning, and questioning adequately, is like buying a gift for someone you know absolutely nothing about--your choice will likely be way off target, and result in disappointment for you and them.
Here are a collection of tips and ideas to use in your questioning.
Have a strong belief system regarding questioning. I've seen timid reps carrying a preconceived notion that people are offended by qualifying questions. Nonsense. This is business! They're actually more offended when salespeople don't get to the point. Project a self-assured image
and tone...one that says questioning is a necessary part of your process (it is!) in order to determine how you can help them. Let your demeanor indicate you expect an answer.
If you must ask for what really is touchy or private information, don't apologize. "I hope you're not thinking I'm getting too personal here. I know this is normally confidential." Instead, preface your remarks with your justification for asking, which puts the answerer more at ease: "The reason for the next question is that it will help me identify the best recommendation for your company's size range."
Use "Assumptive Problem" open-ended questions. Instead of saying, "Do you have any problems with defects now?" say, "How are you handling defects in the manufacturing process." If you know your industry well enough, you're aware of problems everyone has. You're asking them to
quantify and explain the implications of the problems.
Use "Parrot" questions. Use parrot questions. That's the technique; repeating back what the person just said. For example, when they say, "We haven't had much luck finding the right system to track our process," you could parrot back, "You haven't had much luck?" Their comment is
just the tip of the iceberg. By repeating a part of their comment, you encourage them to continue.
Use "Instructional Statements." Don't ask for information. Tell them to give it to you. Use phrases like, "Tell me a little about..." "Share with me..." "Fill me in on..." "Give me some idea of..." "Detail the ways that..." "Let's go over the reasons for..."