Answers are what we, as sales people, are about—we look for answers from our customers, “What do they think of our solutions?” “When will they place an order”” “What does it take to win their business?” We’re hungry for answers to those questions. We, also, have answers for our customers.–even before they’ve posed the questions. But answers are meaningless without great questions and great understanding.
As sales people, we’re trained to ask questions—usually these are focused on eliciting the responses that allow us to start “pitching.” But these aren’t the questions customers are most concerned about, they don’t generate the answers they really care about.
Great questions generate great answers. They open conversations, they position both customers and ourselves to learn. They provide a platform for collaboration and generating insight. They provide a platform for alignment—if we can’t align, they enable us to disqualify the opportunity.
Great questions elicit discussions about people’s dreams and visions, both for their organizations, and themselves. They elicit values and beliefs. Great questions don’t start with needs or even problems, they begin with opportunity and lead to insight. Great questions cause both the customer and us to think and reflect. Fast responses are probably an indicator that we may have asked the wrong question–and may not give us the most useful answers.
If you are looking for great answers, answers that help you create differentiated value for your customers, make sure you are asking great questions.