Survive And Thrive
ARE YOU ASKING THE
RIGHT QUESTIONS?

by Marc Beauchamp

   "You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.""
   - Naguib, Mahfouz

   One of the most critical stages in the sales process is correctly analyzing your merchant's needs and buying values. My experience has been that top sales producers actively listen much more than they speak. Remember telling is not selling; only asking questions is selling. A question begins a conversation and a conversation begins the sales dialogue.

Questions serve many purposes:
  • They provide valuable information about your merchant's needs, expectations and unique challenges they are facing.
  • They relieve pressure.
  • They verify that the merchant understands your point, especially when dealing with a complicated issue.
  • They help you judge the progress you're making during the presentation phase.
  • Questions help you clarify an unclear statement made by your prospect.

   Remember, you are on a fact-finding mission. Find out what their expectations are in a payment system, a new vendor relationship or your specific product or service. The initial questions you are going to ask will be determined by the service or product you are offering. Your goal should be to discover the information needed to recommend the right solution, the first time. There are several different types of questions:

Open-Ended questions: (informational)
  • Who, What, Where, When, How?
Closed-Ended questions: (answer is usually a yes or no)
  • Would you consider changing processors if I could ______?
  • Emotional: How do you feel about....?
  • Preference: Which do you prefer....?
  • Trial Close: Is this what you were looking for?
  • Tie-Downs: This is important to you isn't it?

   Make sure you create several probing questions on each product line you're selling. Once the question is asked, ensure that you truly listen. By really listening to your merchant's answers you are demonstrating the qualities of an extraordinary salesperson. This is one of the greatest tools available to help you establish rapport and trust.
   Who do people like to talk about the most? You guessed it themselves. Get them talking about their business plans, challenges and aspirations. Once they have opened up half the battle is won.
   The next step is to determine what is most important to them when making a buying decision. Once you have explored their concerns, needs and expectations ask them these three value questions and you will able to determine their dominant buying motive.
   Use your own language style to ask these questions, these are just examples.

  • Mr. Merchant (first name) what is most important to you when considering the purchase of a payment system (whatever product your selling)? or Mr. Merchant what is most important to you when considering a new credit card processing relationship?
  • How do you know when you have__________? We want the merchant's definition of what is most important; don't assume you know what service, price or quality means, have them define it.
  • If I could show you a program that gives you ________, and make sense for you, would you consider moving forward?

   If the client responds "No" ask, "What else is important to you when purchasing a payment system?" and repeat the cycle.

   These three questions are fabulous tools to uncover your customer's dominant buying values. Now that you know what is important to them you may highlight these buying values throughout the presentation.

Example

Salesperson: Mr. Merchant, what is most important to you when considering the purchase of a payment system?
Merchant: I would have to say service.
Salesperson: Mr. Merchant, how do you know when you have great service?
Merchant: Well that's easy there is someone on the other end of the phone when I call. I don't have time to make 5 calls to get an answer to my question.
Salesperson: Mr. Merchant, let me ask you a question, if I could show you a program that offered great service, and makes sense for you not me, would you considering moving forward today?
Merchant: Sure, I'd consider it.

   By asking the value questions you already have your merchant moving in the right direction towards a sale. Everybody is different use these questions as a template, work on the wording to fit your individual style. Role-play these questions several times with a fellow sales associate to ensure a smooth delivery.
   Questions are the doorway to your customers mind, take the time upfront to explore their world and you will eliminate most of the roadblocks before they occur.
   Good Luck!