Collecting topics upfront of my seminars is always revealing. It shows what occupies salespeople. Before one seminar about questions in sales situations, I got questions like: “How can I ask questions without pushing too much?“ and “Isn’t it possible to ask too many questions? Doesn’t that seem like an interrogation?“
I am sure that some of you had similar experiences and stopped asking altogether as a consequence. That’s why you will answer questions in order to reduce your fear:
- Questions are too pushy? Is that true?
Not in my opinion. In general, clients like to be asked and to be able to explain their point of view, their unsolved problems, and their needs. Most customers have the opinion that their situation is unique and therefore needs to be explained.
But questions can seem pushy if you don’t listen and react to the answers appropriately. Ideally, there is a mixture of questions, answers, reactions and more questions, etc. If you place your questions into this mix, they will not appear pushy, but will turn out to be a natural dialogue.
- Too many questions sound like an interrogation?
Yes, that can actually happen. Even more so if you place too many closed questions. If you then have a client that does not talk much and gives only short answers, you have to ask one question after the other. Welcome to the interrogation room.
In a practice round in a recent seminar, a seller went even further. She didn’t ask but expressed assumptions that I should agree on: “You have a machine already?“ “So you liked this feature?“ While I played a dominant customer, I reacted on this and let her struggle. But I freed her from the situation quickly. In a second attempt, she managed to open me up with open questions.
In this situation, again, it is the right mix and measure that makes all the difference. But the main thing is to learn to place open questions that show your real interest. Especially in the beginning of a conversation ask very general questions. Then listen with your full attention, react naturally and so on and so forth. Et Voilà: A dialogue!