Killer Sales Questions are not an alternative to effective probing

Killer Sales Questions are not an alternative to effective probing

I recently stumbled upon a few articles (I won’t link them to protect the guilty) that claim to provide salespeople with ‘killer sales questions’ to help them win more business.

I thought their questions were terrible, and as a result I’m going to write about how you should ask sales questions.

‘Killer sales questions’ are not an alternative to training yourself how to ask effective sales probing questions

There are no shortcuts to winning new business.

killer sales questions are not a shortcut
‘Killer sales questions’ are not a shortcut, the same way jumping down the stairs isn’t a shortcut

Most salespeople think that improving their probing questions and closing techniques will improve their results more than anything else they work on.

Those are important areas, but the allure of quick fixes can be tempting.

Closing techniques are not a quick fix, and neither are ‘killer sales questions’.

Like anything in life you have to work hard to develop the skill instead of finding a short cut.

You can’t figure out what a companies needs are with one, two, or even three questions. It would be amazing if you could but it’s not possible. 

The suggestion that ‘killer sales questions’ work seems like a great idea. If they did then you could skip training to be better at asking probing questions. You would add one ‘killer sales question’ and *poof*, you will close more business.

It’s never going to be that simple.

First of all, every decision maker is different. The more complex the product, the more complex the sale. Not every company buys the same way, so not every sale will go the same way. You need to be adaptive.

Furthermore, every company has different needs. The main benefit for one company might not be the main benefit for another.

Chances are your product creates value in multiple different areas. The reason that I buy from you might not be the reason that someone else does. Tailoring your selling style to one type of buyer will leave money on the table when you encounter the other type of buyer.

It would be great if there was a box we could fit every prospect into. That would make our lives much easier. Unfortunately that isn’t the reality that we live in.

Techniques like ‘killer sales questions’ are often delivered robotically, and can make you seem unlikeable

Some questions will never sound natural to ask, no matter how good the delivery. Take these ‘killer sales questions’ I found on another blog as an example:

Question 1: Is there any reason, if we gave you the product at this price, that you wouldn’t do business with our company?

Question 2: Will this Product/Service solve the most pressing issue in your business right now?

These questions sound unnatural. They are trying to force the prospect to give you a yes RIGHT NOW.

People don’t like being put on the spot. You will earn more business if customers enjoy interacting with you. Apply pressure but do it in a way that isn’t hostile or aggressive.

Make sure you ask questions that don’t come off like a robot reading a script.

killer sales questions robot
This robot is about to hit you with some ‘killer sales questions’

Ask sales questions using a conversational tone

I will use the first ‘killer sales question’ above as an example. There are better ways to get information from our customer without bombarding them.

Question 1: Is there any reason, if we gave you the product at this price, that you wouldn’t do business with our company?

This question is trying to get three important pieces of information:

A) Is the customer ok with the price?

B) Does the customer think the product will work?

C) Is the customer ready to buy now?

killer sales questions make people as what's wrong with you
How I react when someone asks me 3 questions wrapped into 1 question.

That is a lot of information to try and cram in one question.

You would sound like a moron asking something like that to one of your friends.

How was your weekend did you go out and would you like to go get a drink tonight?

Ask one question at a time. There is no reason you have to rush things. Be conversational and speak like a normal human being.

Let’s unpack this ‘killer sales question’ further and focus on the individual parts.

A) Are they ok with the price?

Price is the most important factor for a buyer so they will usually let you know if there’s an issue. Ask them directly if you think they aren’t being straightforward:

Do you think that $X fits into your budget for this category?

Ask directly if the customer has budget, but only after you’ve presented the product. You have to make sure they know the value you create. Once you’ve presented the product there’s nothing wrong with directly asking whether or not the price is in the customers ballpark.

Your client will appreciate you being direct. This will help you figure out when to follow up and how often you should get back in touch.

B) Do they like the product?

I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this part of the question.

Do you think that SuperProduct can help you save on operating costs?

Just ask. Customers are happy to let you know if they think your product will work or not. You don’t have to ask a lengthy ‘killer sales question’ to find that out. Be a normal person and ask for feedback

C) Are they ready to buy?

Finally, the easiest question of all.

Don’t skip to here if you don’t know if the price, product, or timeline are agreeable. The customer will think that you are jumping the gun.

Furthermore, it suggests that you don’t care about their needs and only want the sale.

Above all make sure they are comfortable. Talk through everything with them, and then ask what they think. Be systematic.

Is there anything I haven’t covered?

The customer might say they have another question. Answer all of their questions before you move on.

If the customer doesn’t have any more questions it means they are comfortable with everything. Now it’s time to close the deal!

Let me explain how our onboarding process works and get you final pricing. If everything looks good from there, we can book you a time to start onboarding.

I like to guide the customer through the onboarding process as I’m finalizing a deal. This is a disarming way to make them feel comfortable and makes for an easy close.

Closing a deal is like climbing a ladder. You can’t skip to the top with ‘killer sales questions’ or other quick tricks. Go step-by-step and you will find yourself writing more business.

For further reading, Yesware wrote a great SPIN Selling guideline if you’re looking to improve on your probing questions. I think SPIN Selling is the best sales training resource currently available. I would recommend picking up a copy if you haven’t read the book yet.

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