How to Be Strategic With Your Questions

Mark HolmesSales strategy, Sales training, Selling value

*read time 2 minutes

If you Google the word strategic, one definition places it in the context of selling, best:

Relating to the identification of overall aims and interests and the means of achieving them.

The overall aim is to land sales. Strategic questions (the right question asked in the right way at the right time) increase the odds of landing sales for the following reasons:

4 Benefits of Strategic Questions:

  • Strategic questions create a highly relevant dialogue for the customer,
  • Strategic questions build trust and reduce tension for seller and buyer,
  • Strategic questions cause the buyer(s) to think through their true needs, and
  • Strategic questions help the customer make an accurate decision about value.

The alternative to not being strategic is to ask random questions. Unfortunately, random questions enter the prefrontal cortex of our brain where cautious consideration of how the question will come off before using it, has little chance of happening under pressure.

This is when stupid questions occur!

Another big mistake is when we ask the same questions of all customers regardless their situation. Since a knowledgeable buyer won’t take seriously the salesperson that asks uninformed or pointless questions, one-size-fits-all questions won’t work well.

3 Tips For Being Strategic With Questions:

  • Preparation. Investing sufficient time before the sales call is critical to coming up with well thought-out, clear questions that make the customer think. My maxim: “Customers must think before they buy and questions make them think.”
  • Purpose. Know where you want to take the conversation before you probe. Once you know, create questions that will get your customer thinking in that direction. What do you need them to focus on in order to create high-perceived value for your product or services? Which questions can you ask to get them thinking about needs they don’t see for themselves?
  • Power. Powerful questions can move buyers off status quo attitudes and beliefs, switch them from a focus on price to a focus on value, reframe how they view your solution and can head off objections before they are raised.

Million Dollar Questions:

Strategic questions have helped my client-companies win million-dollar sales! Here are four actual million-dollar questions I provide to coaching and training classes. Modify the words in italics to fit your opportunities:

  1. How long do you want the training to last?
  2. Has your present supplier made you aware of the new RCRA regulations and costly penalties for non-compliance?
  3. What is the impact on your customer’s satisfaction if the new supplier does not deliver on time?
  4. What are you doing to equip your team to achieve their goals in the third quarter?
Summary: Take sufficient time to prepare in advance. Have a clear purpose. Create powerful questions tailored to each buyer’s needs. Talk less, be more strategic with your questions and watch more sales land!

Note: A shout-out to @JamieLIrvine. Based on one of my tweets he asked for specifics on how to be more strategic with questions. Jamie, thanks for the nudge!

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