Sales Techniques: Structure vs Content

You’ve heard the sales adage that once you ask a question of a prospect, the first person to speak loses.

While that is certainly true, the real secret to “winning” in that situation is to ask better questions.

To ask better questions you must have a list of better questions to ask and/or internalize the fact that in today’s modern era of selling, you, the professional salesperson are in charge of structure while the prospect is in charge of content.

This is 180 degrees out from conventional sales training wisdom.

Back in the day we were told to:

  • “Get five ‘no’s’ to get to ‘yes.’”
  • “Follow the ABCs of selling, which is “Always Be Closing.”
  • “Perfect your pitch.” (I cringe when I hear the word “pitch.”)
  • “When they object they’re just asking for more information.”

Fill in the blanks with the other terrible advice you’ve received over the years.

Today, our prospects are well-informed. Thanks to Google and social media sharing, our prospects may be better-informed on the particular product they want than we are.

Don’t worry about it. As long as you are comfortable in your own selling skin—and have done your homework—you can greet any prospect with confidence. And ask the late, great Zig Ziglar taught,

Selling is the transference of a feeling, and that feeling is confidence.

When you realize you don’t have to have all of the answers, you just have to have the confidence to ask good questions, you’ll exert less energy while making good sales because our prospects ASSUME that if you ask a question that the prospect cannot answer, you / your product / your company must be able to answer that question / solve that issue.

So what are some good questions you can ask when you engage a new prospect? How about…

  • How long have you been looking to make a change?
  • What do you have now?
  • What do you like best about your current software / product / service provider?
  • If you could change one thing about your current situation, what would it be?
  • What are your top 3, non-negotiable criteria for making your decision?
  • When you go about choosing a new software program / product / partner, who else do you work with to bounce ideas off of?

Want to go deeper? Just add “Oh really?” “Tell me more about that.” “I see. Wow. Interesting.” and see how they respond. Most prospects will take that as an invitation to go even deeper into their situation, which is essentially them telling you EXACTLY how to sell to them.

How cool is that?

If you need more help growing your sales, check out The Sales Whisperer and subscribe to The Sales Podcast for free on iTunes.

Good Selling,

Wes Schaeffer, The Sales Whisperer®

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