effective questioning

I talk with clients a lot about effective questioning as part of the sales process.  (Notice I said “effective questioning.”)

In his book “To Sell is Human”,  Dan Pink gives the reason that questioning is so powerful.  The book is a study of the psychology of moving people aka: Sales.  (I do this type of studying so you don’t have to if you don’t want!)

The significance lies in the core of how questions operate.  Let’s contrast this first with a statement.

When you make a statement, it can be received passively. You know, in one ear and out the other. This is what happens when you “pitch.”  And why a pitch so often falls on deaf ears.  Telling is not selling.  It’s certainly not helping a prospect buy from you.

When you ask a question, the receiver is compelled to respond. Either aloud if the question is direct, or silently if it is rhetorical.

That requires at least a bit of effort on the part of your prospect. Or as researchers say ”more intensive processing of message content.”  That’s the key!  Make your prospect think.

Deeper processing reveals the connection of strong arguments to the prospect and creates clarity for them. Effective questioning allows your prospect to assign meaning in the context of their own world and this leads them to deciding if there is a fit for them to do business with you or not.

This is why “telling is not selling”. And why top sellers in every industry have a list of powerful questions they regularly ask, whether they realize the psychology behind it or not.

Now you know the psychology.  You can gain an advantage over your competition and increase your sales if you apply it.

So the next time in a sales call you find yourself wanting to “pitch” or “tell”, what will you do?  Turn your statement into a question so that you can run it through your prospect’s brain for processing.