By Gabriela Streza, Business Development Director, Valoria
Once the summer vacation period ends and autumn begins, companies mobilize to get the best results in the last 4 months of the year. Even though the year 2020 is marked by the health crisis and the measures taken to control the pandemic generated by the SARS-COV2 virus, most companies know their development needs and can establish solutions to satisfy them through their sales strategies.
On the other hand, according to the Valoria survey “Buying behaviours in the era of digital consumers”, since 2018 B2B customers went through, on average, almost 67% of the purchasing decision by researching solutions, comparing options, evaluating prices, etc. in the online environment before having the first conversation with a potential supplier.
This is why in recent years the B2B sales landscape has changed under the impact of inbound content-based marketing increasingly implemented by companies, but also the fact that most B2B customers search the internet for options for purchasing products and services before contacting the sales team of the shortlisted suppliers.
However, even in these conditions, the value of the knowledge of a good and well-trained salesman has not changed, and the best sellers know exactly what questions to ask to discover customer needs and guide them to the successful closing of the sale.
In this context, I present you three of the strongest questions sales professionals can ask to determine customer needs and make more sales.
1) What is most important for you about the desired product/service?
The perceived difference in value between the seller and the buyer is well known. That’s why the first strong question in a sales conversation, the one above, directly targets this issue. Of course, this is not the first question we start the conversation with a potential customer. We have to follow all the classic steps of establishing rapport, identifying needs, setting options, and constraints, and only then you ask this question.
Even if it is an online meeting, facilitated by Skype or Zoom, a telephone conversation or a face-to-face meeting, it is essential that the seller writes down the answer of the interlocutor and then “digs” further. If the first answer received from the customer is “price”, all the seller has to do is confidently say “I understand”, write down the answer and then add “and what else?”.
The following answers will bring to the fore other words such as reliability, quality, implementation assistance, post-warranty services, etc. In this way, all the conscious and subconscious criteria that the potential customer activates for decision making and that the seller, in this way, gets to know, come to light.
2) What do you want to be the same/different about the desired product/service?
Most salespeople have a set of questions that they ask almost every time and that helps them discover the needs and hardships of potential customers during discussions with them. One of the most important parts of sales meetings is listening to the answers that customers give. When a customer says, “We are looking for a product with user-friendly features,” the seller must listen with the intention of understanding and then ask follow-up questions to get to the essence of the needs that were covered by this statement. That’s why well-trained salespeople ask questions that invite the customer to point out what is ok to be the same about the desired product/service, and then what can or needs to be different.
This sequence of conversations can be “seasoned” with anecdotes to relax the client to feel comfortable going into detail. All active listening techniques are also extremely useful. During all this time, the seller must write down the answers – at least their basic ideas – so that he can then point out in the sales proposal what remains the same and gives security to the customer, but also what can bring new and different, better, as surplus value.
3) What made you consider our product/service?
Unfortunately, this is not a “common” question in a sales meeting. Somehow it is not part of the current business label in Romania, but I also met well-trained sales teams (few) who use it successfully. It is good to ask this question towards the end of the sales conversation or in the second part of it anyway.
To respond, a potential buyer can consider present needs and challenges or the desire to change or any other reason. The answer often offers a perspective not only on the motivation but also on the hierarchy of decision-making criteria, because in answering this question, clients can reveal that they have a problem that needs to be addressed immediately or in the future. So the exact elements that the seller needs to go directly to the target with the bidding and closing of the sale will be revealed.
If your sales team colleagues have not been trained to ask potential buyers these questions, it does not mean that they will not meet their sales target. They must reach the proposed target effectively, feeling motivated to succeed. And this is exactly what the three questions above do: they lead to success effectively because they reveal the important criteria on which the buyer’s decision will be based. And as 2020 has put a lot of pressure on companies, managers, and entrepreneurs, now is the time to implement strong techniques with a positive impact on sales results.
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About the author
Gabriela Streza has over 15 years of experience in marketing and business development teams of major multinational companies and family businesses in Romania, leaders in their fields of activity. Gabriela graduated from the Polytechnic University of Bucharest and has solid expertise in marketing, communication, and business development during hundreds of successfully managed projects Gabriela also has a broad knowledge of public relations and high-quality professional communication in interpersonal communications, organizations and event management to generate awareness of the company’s brand and business development. In recent years he has coordinated complex marketing and business development projects involving Romanian entrepreneurs, non-profit associations and multinational companies.