Sell By Asking

When it comes to sales, your customers quite literally have all the answers. When it comes to increasing sales, many businesses look to their marketing to bring in more leads. What is often overlooked is that they may very well have enough leads, but their sales process is not converting enough of these leads into paying customers. Your conversion rate is the percentage of leads that actually buy from you, and it is an often overlooked measurement of successful sales. So how do we increase our conversion rates?

Have you ever answered a question with a question? Would that be making a difference to your conversion rate? The answer to the latter is most definitely yes! Asking questions not only increases your conversion rate, but also builds rapport with your customer and ensures that the sale becomes their idea and not yours.

Asking questions also means active listening. You can ask questions about your customer’s work, business, children or hobbies but make sure that you are listening with sincere interest. It may even be helpful to note down some of the answers – such as the names of their children, interests, etc., for future communication. By asking questions and listening, you are building rapport and attaching importance to their conversation.

Also, by asking questions you are remaining in control of the conversation. Once you find yourself doing all the talking you are no longer in control. Just remember that the person asking questions sets the direction for the conversation. If the customer is dominating the conversation by asking you questions make sure you answer the question with a question. However, try to vary the questions that you ask. You may remember from looking after your own children or babysitting that being asked “but why?” over and over again tends to get a little monotonous.

Questions can guide consumer interest, discover a need and give accurate information. There are two commonly known types of questioning – open ended and closed questions.

Building Rapport and Qualifying

Open-ended questions are an excellent way to ensure customer involvement in the conversation and are key to identifying not only what they need but also a lot about themselves. You can use open-ended questions to build rapport, to find a need, to discover a customer problem and find the right solution. In journalism there are six key questions used in the interviewing process which is as equally useful in sales – who, what, where, when, why and how.

Here are a few example of open-ended questions which are very useful:
  • Who are you buying the product/service for?
  • How often would you use the product/service?
  • What features were you looking for in this product/service?
This type of questioning yields a lot of great information from your customer and helps you determine which product/service is uniquely suited to them.

Closed questions tend to get one-word answers “yes” or “no”. They can be used to gather information quickly – not unlike a checklist. Using closed questions can also confirm a buying detail and help confirm the sale.

By using questions you are encouraging the customer to communicate, building rapport, establishing their needs, directing the conversation, diffusing tension and inviting discussion.

Learning the art of questioning and listening is the key to increasing your conversion rate and well on the way to creating a continuing customer relationship.
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