>Asking questions, in my opinion, is a lost art in sales, networking and just general conversation. If you want to be great at sales, if you want to truly turn your prospects into customers then you need to ask great questions. Be curious, take an interest, and have a desire to learn all about your prospect.There is gold in the answers you receive!

Asking your prospects great questions has so many benefits, I don’t even have room in this article to list them all, so here are just a few. First, people love to talk about themselves. They love it! When you ask them questions you give them that opportunity. If you give them that opportunity they will love you for it, and you will have just accomplished a major step in the sales process – emotional connection. If you talk about yourself and your company you will not only bore the prospect, they will completely lose interest. If you want to turn your prospects into customers you need them to emotionally connect with you and asking questions does the trick!

Second, asking great questions allows the prospect to open up and actually freely give you the information you need to understand the best way, the best time, and the best manner in which to do business with them. If you’ll stop talking, let them do the talking they’ll actually tell you how to make and how to close the sale. If you listen closely, they’ll share their biggest challenge, they’ll tell you how they make decisions, and they’ll tell you what or who is your biggest competition.

So how do you know the right questions to ask? Research and do your homework of course. This well invested time, should make you curious and make you want to know more. When your doing research, simply write down the questions that come to your mind. Research will net you the details of the company’s annual report, information on their product lines, major clients, and background on their Executives. All a great foundation to peak your interest, so you can use your interview to uncover things like: How is the current economy impacting this company financially, strategically and from a moral standpoint? What opportunities are being created, and what opportunities are being lost? What one or two things do they feel are most critical to focus on in the next year? What best practices and strategies do they feel are working for them right now? What is one thing about the company they want or need to change in the next year? Who is their competition and how well do they feel they compete? The list goes on. The point is if you will ask questions and you will listen, the prospect will actually tell you exactly what is wrong and what solution they are looking for in order to fix it. In other words, your prospect will tell you exactly what they are looking for and exactly how to present it if you want the sale. Pretty amazing isn’t it, because all you have to do it ask questions.

This “question asking strategy” works in all different types of situations. I was giving a sales and networking workshop in North Carolina, and a member of my audience, Nancy a personal trainer, challenged me with this question. She needed to grow her client base, retain more customers and increase her number of referrals. Among the other strategies, we reviewed with her in the workshop, was her sales process. Here is what we discovered. While she asked her prospects and customers the usual questions – what brought them to her; how did they discover her; what were their goals? etc. She was not really connecting with the them and she could benefit from using better and deeper questions . Based on what we learned about her current customer base, and her target market we developed a list of questions that would not only gain her better information on how to help her customers, but questions that would position her as the personal trainer that cared, listened and was interested in what her clients want. Questions such as: Tell me about your history regarding challenges with weight loss, physical fitness and diet? If you could name one or two particular areas that seem to be your biggest challenges what would those be? Share with me times that you have had success with your personal fitness goals? What is the most important thing you need in terms of support – a plan, accountability, information and instruction, all of the above? You get the idea. We created questions that would truly get the client to open up and share what it is they want, need and struggle with. Nancy was then able to design fitness plan presentations that were more personal and training that ensured the client received exactly what it is they desired in terms of both training, support and information. By asking better questions, Nancy was able to design better training program presentations for her prospects. Those presentations made buying easy for the prospects and ensured her prospects turned into customers!

Asking great questions is fun, interesting and crucial in the sales process. If you want to turn your prospects into customers take the time to develop and ask great questions.