Questions: The Answer to Sales

The Gabby Dinosaur – Your perfect pitch – and where to pitch it.

They teed off on the fifth hole, a long Par 5, and put away their drivers. “So,” Mitch said, “as a Certified Action Selling professional, you can tell me how to ask—how’d you put it? – the right questions at the right times in the right way? That’s what Action Selling is?”

“That’s the heart of it,” Harry said amiably. “Oh, Action Selling taught me a few other things I didn’t know despite 20 years in the field. Like how to manage not just a sales call, but also the whole sales process. And how to match the selling process to the customer’s buying process. And how to really plan and orchestrate sales calls so customers see me as a consultant and business partner, instead of just a guy who pitches the same commodities they can buy from anybody else.

“I’ve changed a lot about my selling game,” Harry continued. “But if we’re talking about how to do all of it, then, yes, Action Selling keeps coming back to when and how to ask the best questions.”

“OK, I’ll bite,” Mitch said. “When and how do I ask the best questions?”

“How to match the selling process to the customer’s buying process.”

Harry paused to examine a bad lie in the rough. He took a pitching wedge and knocked his ball back onto the fairway. “It would help if I had a clear picture of what you’re doing now,” he said. “For instance, you’re not landing new accounts. You used to be very good at that. Any thoughts about what’s changed?”

“Nothing much besides what I told you. The time-crunch thing is a big part of it. But even when a prospect gives me a decent amount of time, I just don’t seem able to establish the level of credibility I used to get.”

“I just don’t seem able to establish the level of credibility I used to get.”

“Tell you what,” Harry said. “Walk me through an example of a recent call on a new account—one where you figured you had a good shot at getting the business.”

Mitch didn’t need long to think, as he laid up with a five iron. “All right, here’s one. I was calling on Cheryl Gross, the technology buyer at Currentech. She’s new in the role; they just hired her from outside. She called us in to bid on her business. Huge outfit. They buy about $2 million a year in product.

“Cheryl is one of these Type A personalities I see more and more, not interested in relationship stuff. You say that selling is all about questions now, Harry? Here’s how Cheryl started our meeting.

She said, ‘We’ve got 15 minutes, and I have three questions: What’s the lead time? What’s your price? And why should I buy from you…?'”

Duane Sparks

About Duane Sparks

Duane Sparks is founder and chairman of The Sales Board, the authoritative source of practical and leading-edge information about the art and science of selling.  He has created Action Selling sales training products and learning systems that transform sales organizations.  Duane is author of these best-selling books: Action Selling, Selling Your Price, Questions (the Answer to Sales), Masters of Loyalty (How to turn your sales force into a loyalty force), and Sales Strategy from the Inside Out (How complex selling really works).

Discover how the best sales training process can make spectacular improvements in sales skills. Action Selling: How to Sell Like a Professional (Even If You Think You are One).