I want to let you into a secret this week that could save you lots of time and energy in your future sales meetings.

It’s a great trick that could make those meetings feel much less stressful, run more smoothly and hopefully become a lot more lucrative for you too.

Because I know that sales meetings for many people growing a business, are a thing of dread! But they really don’t need to be. The simple fact is that without making sales, a business simply can’t grow. But there’s a way to manage these meetings so that you can feel professional and in control without ever feeling pushy or out of your depth.

And the secret is to ask great questions.

Let me explain a little more about why this works so well, then I’ll give you an example so you can see for yourself just how effective this can be.

There are 3 reasons why, in my opinion, great questions could transform your sales results.

1. It means the customer is doing the talking, not you

So many people think that a sales meeting is about them doing all the talking. They worry that they ought to be able to deliver a fancy sales pitch and dazzle their potential customers with their seamless delivery and scintillating repartee.

It’s just not true though!

The simple truth is that customers want to talk about themselves. And by asking great questions you have the opportunity to draw out lots of lovely information from your customer about what it is they need and to also understand more clearly exactly how you can help them, so you can be really sure that you’re the right fit.

2. It proves that you’re genuinely interested in the customer

If you’re the one doing all the talking that just says that you’re more interested in yourself than you are in the customer. But a customer wants to see and feel that you’re genuinely interested in them and that you have their best interests at heart, rather than your own.  I think it was Dale Carnegie that said you need to be more interested than interesting. And asking the right questions is a great way to do that.

If you don’t prove that you’re interested in the customer then the whole thing may well feel quite transactional to them, rather than feeling that they’re building a true business relationship.

3. It proves you know your onions

Asking useful and insightful questions can be a great way to prove that you really know what you’re talking about, and at the same time to show that your approach is more thorough than your competition’s.

Let’s look at an example of how this might work in practice:

Imagine you’ve decided it’s time for a business re-brand so you’re starting off by talking to a couple of graphic designers about logos and literature etc. The first designer asks you:

  • What kind of colour scheme do you have in mind?
  • What kind of materials will you use the logo on?
  • What kind of fonts do you like?
  • What sort of logo shapes or designs do you like best?

These aren’t bad questions, they could definitely get you started with some thoughts and ideas. But then designer number 2 asks you questions like:

  • What kind of customer are you ideally looking to work with – small, local businesses, or national corporates?
  • What sort of personality do you want your brand to convey – perhaps it’s quite corporate, or maybe quirky and fun; is it accessible and approachable or very exclusive?
  • What key values do you want your brand to imply – maybe trust & dependability; or is creativity and innovation?
  • What are your plans for the business over the next 3 to 5 years – is it to continue doing exactly what you’re doing already; or to shift your focus more strongly to one particular service; or to expand until you achieve total global domination?

In my opinion the deeper, more thought-provoking questions from the second designer suggest a much higher level of competence than the standard questions of the first designer. The questions themselves could help a customer clarify their thoughts a lot more and therefore lead to a result they’re much happier with. The questions also show a real inquisitive interest in the customer’s business that the first set just doesn’t deliver.

So my recommendation is to spend an hour or two thinking through the kind of insightful questions that could make your own potential customers sit up and take notice. Questions that help them to do much more of the talking so that you don’t need a fancy sales pitch, but at the same time the customer feels that you’re truly interested in them.

The beauty of doing this is that once you’ve come up with a list of great questions, they becomes the template for your sales meeting, so suddenly you have a system that you’ll get more and more comfortable with every time you use it. And then sales meetings don’t have to seem so scary!

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