I talk a lot about how to manage a sales conversation to a successful conclusion. And how it’s all about the questions you ask and how you ask them.
But what ARE the best questions when you’re selling directly to a consumer?
Key Questions for Every Sales Conversation
Let’s begin at the beginning. Yes, there are some basic questions that need to be answered at some point along the sales journey. As a reminder, you need to confirm: budget (this one can be tricky, see what NOT to ask below), decision time frame, the decision maker and the decision making process.
But what you’re really after here is those compelling questions. Open ended questions that make your prospect think in terms of their needs but answer in terms of your needs
Clearly those questions will vary from industry to industry, but there are still some questioning themes that will run through most consumer sales conversations. The throw away ones are the ‘making conversation’, rapport building ones – they help you gain some background and insight, but they aren’t going to really get you deep enough into the sales conversation to uncover needs.
Good Questions for Any B2C Sales Conversation
Some classics that can be adapted to most consumer selling situations:
Tell me about your family.
What is the outcome you are seeking? (You get the idea, but please adapt to a less stilted question that works for your industry!)
How will this product/service change your situation? (As above.)
Best Questions for Retail Sales
Who are you shopping for? and a good follow on, Tell me about the recipient.
How do you/the user want to feel when using this product/service?
What’s the occasion you are shopping for?
As for what NOT to ask, here’s a list of questions you shouldn’t ask in a retail environment. Frankly, I may be guilty of using some of these in the past!
Best Questions for Financial Services
How do you imagine your retirement?
What do you need this product/service to do for you?
How important is it that your investment is secure?
If you don’t make any changes, what will the outcome be?
Best Questions for Home Services Providers
What makes you feel comfortable/safe/secure in your home?
What’s the most important consideration in getting this work done?
I noticed that . . . might need some attention. Would it make sense to get all the work done at once? (Tread carefully here – unfortunately many service providers have developed a reputation for selling work that doesn’t need to be done.)
Don't Forget the Follow Up
And when a problem has been clearly articulated by the customer and you’ve done your rapport building well, the next most important thing is to follow up properly. You’ve already done all the hard work! Don’t lose the sale now. If you’re putting out proposals, you need to be following up properly. Even in some retail situations, this will be the difference between winning a single sale and solidifying a longer term, repeat customer.
Hopefully this post has given you some food for thought and you’ll spend a little time crafting your own compelling questions. Questions are always more effective when they sound like you.
Good luck! Let me know how you get on.