Sales Effectiveness
4 min reading

Questiology [1/2]: The strategic questions that drive a deal forward

Cyprien Borios
Published on
10/6/2024
Strategic issues

Ask the right question at the right time.

This is another key issue, and one that is vastly underestimated.

It's like in sports: Precision, plus timing.

When you hear about it, many people think: "I have nothing left to learn, I am a monster".

In fact, here is the result of a survey of 142 salespeople:

That says it all... We Sales people often tend to overestimate ourselves.

Yet the best of us have mastered this sales arcane: "Questiology."

Questiology is "The art of asking the right questions at the right time".

The power of questiology? 📍

2 key elements:

  • Instead of imposing your own answers, you help your interlocutor to identify his or her own weak points and the strength of your proposal.
  • You gain the involvement of your prospect, because the idea comes from them.

One of the keystones of the sale.

When the lesser ones among us are faced with an objection, they rush to a low-end answer, forgetting that your prospect has no confidence in your answer:

"I'm not sure about the quality of your product" => "Oh well, it's really the best, don't worry!"

VS

"I'm not sure about the quality of your product" => "To be honest it depends on your use cases. How do you intend to use it?".

Read this example again. Do you do it systematically?

Firstly, why you should NOT impose your solution?

Naturally, the person you are talking to will become defensive.

It's almost physical. He will be suspicious, and so will you! Think of that friend who regularly tries to convince you to vote for his favourite candidate. There you automatically start to scrutinise the slightest flaw in his reasoning to prove him wrong.

So imagine when it's a salesman ... that you don't know!

Action - Reaction

So, how do you get your interviewer to want to work with you by THEMSELVES?

Think of the film INCEPTION: Dicaprio has to convince a businessman to do something. He then uses the "shared dream" method, which allows him to influence a victim while he is dreaming, from his subconscious. The subject then thinks that the idea comes from him, and implements it!

It is exactly the same concept.

The will must come from your prospect.

Of course, you cannot implant false memories, but you will guide your interlocutor on the path to your solution.

Every question you ask should move him or her one step closer:

Soon available in NFT

Our friend Plato already said:

"If you question prospects well, by asking the right questions, they discover the truth about everything on their own."

So, for at least 2,400 years, asking a question has been an excellent way to move forward, while circumventing received objections:

Ask questions. Questions that push your prospect to take a stand, and move forward.

Now, what are the strategic questions that move your sales cycle forward?

1. Making contact ✌

[1/16] "I'm sorry to bother you" VS "Am I bothering you?

The first question ... Is not a question!

Remember: Asking a question is giving the ball away. If you want to make a date, don't leave any exit doors. Use the affirmative.

[2/16] "I propose that we take 20 minutes to discuss the subject. In terms of timing, would you prefer Tuesday or Wednesday?"

Yes, directionality in the dirty world is an open secret.

Note that the question is not: "Can we make an appointment? There WILL be an appointment, your prospect only chooses the date ;)

It's all very well to press this point in a coaching session, but being directive is sometimes complicated if you're not used to it.

Be directive. Use violence. It pays off:

2. Discovery phase / Identification of needs 🔎

A good discovery phase is about learning as much as possible about your prospect while maintaining the appearance of a conversation:

  • 24 minutes of questioning is a long time.
  • 24 minutes with an inspirational person is a very short time!

We don't realise how important the first meeting is.

"It's just a discovery date, don't worry"
"Right, okay. So why is it that in 80% of the opportunities you lost, you went all the way to the negotiation phase?"

At Modjo, it's a classic.

It is estimated that at least 70% of our lost opportunities could have been avoided, as they are due to poor management of the deal by salespeople.

The waste of time that this represents is just enormous!

So imagine if we convert to €...

However, if your discovery phase is well conducted, there are only two possibilities at the end:

1. Either you have validated that it is a potential client, in which case you have then asked the questions that put the finger where it hurts ⇒ Next-steps assured.

2. Either you understood that the potential was too lowWe'll stop here.

Let's ask ourselves a second question: What are the top 3 reasons why you can't convert?

When you are told: it's too expensive - it's not our priority - no more responses from your prospect - you just haven't created enough interest.

So, that you have failed to detect a problem.

And therefore, you did not know how to qualify it.

A good qualification phase is like a solid foundation for a house.

And you can only build on solid foundations!

That's all for today... 

Yes, we only gave 2 questions, and the subject is too interesting to stop there!

👉 The rest of the article HERE.

Best,

Cyprien - Sales Content Specialist at Modjo

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