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RAB Research Archive

Intelligent Questions

I miss Lincoln. Lincoln was my technology go-to salesperson at a local electronics store (when we used to go to stores). The reason he was my go-to was not so much his product knowledge – although that was superb – it was the questions he asked. As we all start to think about the future, replacing lost business, getting business back will all require that strategy most salespeople hate: PROSPECTING. Hurts to even say it, right?

Tom Hopkins wrote an article called Artful Questioning. He says, “Champion salespeople, on the other hand, never give anyone the impression that they’re pushing them – for the simple reason that they never push. But they do lead. The Champion leads his or her buyers from the initial contact to happy involvement in owning the product or service by not talking all of the time, by listening most of the time and by asking artful questions.”

There are five elements to what we call a Productive Question:

1. The question requires the client to do some productive thinking in order to formulate and answer. 2. The question forces the client to evaluate new information. 3. The question forces the client to draw from past experiences. 4. The question relates directly to the client’s current business situation. 5. The question relates directly to the client’s objectives.

By asking productive questions, you can lead your prospects on a path of discovery. Productive questions engage prospects at a whole new level. With their answers, prospects will reveal to you exactly what they need and how they like to buy.

After the last tech purchase, I told Lincoln that we were going to create a sales tip about him. He nervously asked what he did wrong. I told him of my experience at the other stores and how he was the only one who asked really good questions, particularly about how I was going to use the item. He said, “How can you sell anything to anyone if you don’t know what they are going to do with it? Don’t you have to ask questions so that you can recommend what best meets the person’s needs?” Words of wisdom from my new friend Lincoln and my new technology “go-to” guy.

Why not spend a few minutes right now pre-planning your next Zoom meeting/phone call, by developing some productive questions? We're always looking for great questions, so if you have a proven favorite, we'd be honored if you share it here.

Source: Jeff Schmidt, RAB