Anyone who has seen The Sound of Music knows there are seven notes in the musical scale, from ‘do’ (a deer) to ‘ti’ (a drink with jam and bread). But do your salespeople know about the seven notes on the sales question scale?
Not all questions are the same. Just as the different notes of that musical scale carry us step by step through the octave, the questions in an effective sales process should carry the process forward, step by step, from the opening question to the closing handshake.
‘DO’—Break the preoccupation with rate
Nothing will be accomplished until the prospective client has made the transition from rate-focused to value-focused. So the first question in the scale must be “Are you looking for the best rate or the best value?”—followed by an explanation of the difference.
These are the basic, relevant-to-product questions that need asking. “How long do you intend to live in this house?” is an example of a situational question.
This is where we head for the emotional heart of the matter. “Why did you start this business?” and “What are the greatest challenges you face in your business?” are needs questions.
These are the third-date questions—time to talk about your blossoming relationship: “What’s important to you in a banking relationship?” “What would you have changed about your relationship with your previous bank?” Here’s your chance to figure out how the previous beau blew it by not caring enough about her needs, leaving the seat up, etc.
Time to drive home your own unique qualities: “How important is it to you to [fill in the blank with your own Unique Selling Proposition]?” If you’ve managed the question scale well to this point, this is the moment the prospective client puts the close fit between her needs and your product into words.
At this point the salesperson will have sufficient information to make concrete recommendations. “Based on what you’re telling me, I’m going to make some recommendations. You mentioned [need] was important to you, so I’m going to recommend [solution]. You also mentioned [need] was important, so I’ll also recommend [solution].”
‘TI’—The closing question
There is only one closing question you’ll ever need and it doesn’t even feel salesy. “Do you have any further questions or would you like to get started?
Salespeople are often so eager to display their wares that they skip straight to the presentation. The prospective client, still stuck in a preoccupation with rate, hears just a single note, hammered over and over—and walks out of the concert!
By playing all seven different notes of the question scale, your salespeople will find themselves and their clients making beautiful music together.
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