Every business needs to sell their products/services for generating revenue. No matter how good your product is, it’s never going to make you money unless a sales personnel sells it for you. That has been the way of trade since its inception. Sales has the power to change conditions, to transform a situation through the skills of a sales person unlike marketing which needs to work with situations as they are. In a general sense, sales is about persuasion & action: whether it’s B2C or B2B sales Business to business (B2B) sales is a sales model that involves one business selling its products or services to another business. B2B sale tends to be more strategic than a B2C sale because B2B offerings usually have a longer sales cycle, higher price point & require multiple touch points to close deals. It is considered that while B2C selling tends to appeal to buyer’s emotions, B2B selling tactics often appeal to buyers rationally.
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One important rule that sales people should keep in their mind in today’s world is – It isn’t always be closing but it’s always be helping. The world has changed a lot. Customers are tired of salesmen who try to sell them things that they don’t need & sales people are done with being referred as con artists who try to skim people of their money. Earlier sales was about being ruthless & never taking no for an answer while today empathy is a necessary quality that is expected from sales people. Technology has evolved so much & with the emergence of techniques like Account based marketing buyer, sales prospecting has reached a whole new level. But one thing that’s never going to change is the guts of a sales person. However, selling isn’t a talent that comes to everyone & even if someone is a natural, there are always skills that can be improved upon or new ones that can be added. Sales people should start thinking of their sales calls as business interviews as an interview has a business purpose in mind that is clear to all participants especially in the B2B world. And one of the most powerful tools that reps should be using is asking great questions. Primarily because by asking the right questions, sales people can suss out the competitive landscape & can subtly help their prospects to move toward a buying decision. Most B2B sales guys are familiar with BANT:
- What’s your Budget?
- Who’s having the Authority to buy?
- Do you have a Need for our solution?
- What is your Timeframe for implementation?
There are several often overlooked questions that sales people should consider asking, which goes beyond the BANT.
Objection surfacing questions.
Exploring buyer concerns might be nerve- wracking, especially for old-school sales guys. But unless, you don’t get the buyer’s objections out in the open it is impossible to address them. If you are sensing hesitation or discomfort from the buyer, you can directly ask questions like
- ‘What reservations are you having with regards to this product?’
- ‘Does something regarding the product concern you?’
- ‘Ready to take this forward?’ followed by ‘why not?’ in case they say no.
Such questions help to assist in exposing the hidden objections towards the final sales process stages & can lead to the most productive & accurate answers.
Questions that are hypothetical
Asking hypothetical questions about a future scenario in which the need for your product arises can enable your prospects to realize the true costs of inaction. Sales people generally don’t ask hypothetical questions because they think it can turn out to be negative. They must train themselves to ask positive hypothetical questions by knowing the buyer’s pain points to lead them to imagining brighter futures with your product. An example of positive hypothetical question:
- ‘Imagine 10 months down the line, hiring at cost and evaluation have disappeared thanks to my product’s ability to source, evaluate and present you qualified candidates in a matter of 4 weeks. How do you envision that helping you hire better and growing your team at cost?’
These questions drive forward more insight, context or background. Most of the times prospects tend to answer them in a couple of questions. The salespersons can learn more about the buyer’s situation with these questions. But you have to be careful as too many fact gathering questions tend to ruin your credibility. So your research needs to be up to the mark as prospects expect you to be wary of their company & industry prior to any meetings or calls. Some fact-gathering questions include:
- ‘Since when have you been in business?’
- “Which is your most profitable location?’
- ‘What do your average monthly operating expenses look like?’
Priority questions help to identify the key objectives of the buyer & are a clinical follow-up in assessing goals. Sales people often make the mistake of assuming that they are aware of prospects priorities according to previous customers which can backfire. Because when you do, you fall prey to basing the entire strategy on false premises. Just make sure to ask open-ended questions, as they can influence a prospect’s response in a more positive way. Some priority questions include:
- ‘What are you most focused on achieving this quarter?”
- ‘Define the success metrics for your role in terms of team, company or function.’
- ‘Of the challenges we’ve discussed, which one is most imperative for your team to solve?’
Thought provoking questions
These questions reinforce salespersons statuses as trusted advisors along with giving new information about the prospect reframing an existing worldview. Examples of some thought provoking questions:
- ‘Did you know (cool statistic)?’
- ‘What was the impact of (recent fact) on the company’s strategy?’
- ‘Have you ever thought about using (innovative strategy)?’
After understanding your prospect’s goals, you must demonstrate in a way in which your product helps achieve them. Asking goal-assessing questions helps in the discovery process towards better understanding of the direction of the client is taking. It would be sensible asking about different objectives which includes:
- Personal goals; the promotion they have their eyes on
- Functional goals; sales numbers or running X number of campaigns each quarter
- Departmental goals; product launches and market expansion
- Team goals; working alongside X number of clients or reducing overheads
- Company goals; raising funding, opening new locations, increasing customer numbers etc.
Sales people have to make sure to ask in a customer friendly way since such questions are mostly straight forwarded.
Asking clarifying questions to your prospects can give tons of information as these tend to help you connect with buyers ensuring you have arrived at the right conclusions. You guys just have to make sure that the questions are close ended as you are confirming your past answers instead of searching for new ones. Some examples can be:
- Can you give me an example?
- Can you be more specific?
- How did that affect you?
Article Be Closed
Asking necessary questions & listening carefully to the answers may seem like a no-brainer, but majority sales professionals only ask so they can sell. Customers can know when they are being manipulated by questions instead of being helped by them. So make sure your focus is on helping and making a relationship instead of selling because then only your questions will sound authentic. Also don’t forget to be friendly as nobody likes a pushy sales person. Have fun, get to know the person & walk away feeling that you have had a good chat. Happy selling! Connect with DataCaptive today to learn how we can help you reach your B2B sales goals. Also read our blog on: WIN YOUR DEALS SCIENTIFICALLY WITH SALES PIPELINE