The ABC of selling

Selling has changed more in the past decade than in the past century, as customers now have greater access to information than ever before. This means they’re more informed and capable, which is why a new, effective approach to selling is needed.

According to Entrepreneur Magazine, sellers need to ask more and speak less. It’s also recommended that you shouldn’t talk for more than a minute unless you get consent to continue. They suggest six types of questions to help you better understand a customer, and with each new question you buy yourself an additional 60 seconds.

OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS

To get your customers talking, ask questions that need thought – instead of a yes or no answer. This stimulates conversation and encourages them to share more, allowing you to build a better relationship.

CLARIFYING QUESTIONS

Use these to clear up misconceptions and reinforce that you understand exactly what they have said and what their needs are. You do this by summarising their points – without repeating them verbatim.

DEVELOPMENTAL QUESTIONS

Your aim is to better understand a customer’s requirements, by giving them a platform to express themselves. These questions allow you to find out precisely what outcome they want to achieve.

DIRECTIONAL QUESTIONS

These are used to find out additional information that was uncovered by your developmental questions. They steer the discussion in a logical, new direction, but without being manipulative or controlling.

OPTION QUESTIONS

You don’t want a one-sided conversation, so use these questions to gauge if your customer is listening. Ask direct questions – in a passive way – to see what their opinion is about the issues at hand.

SOCIAL PROOF QUESTIONS

These allow you to mention a third party that is applicable to your conversation, but it can be risky if your customer sees this as irrelevant. On the positive side, it’s proof that you have experience in dealing with similar situations.
Selling is about building relationships, so before cold calling a perspective customer, it’s vital to conduct thorough research, so you can ask pertinent questions. Be persistent, never stop at no, and prolong the discussion by using your questions to help you build a rapport, because a customer is more inclined to buy from you if they trust you.

LEAP provides business support to entrepreneurs and business owners. To find out more information call 011 449 7074 or visit www.leapco.co.za.

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