Sales August 12, 2014

How to Make the Sales Questions You Ask a Key Differentiator

Let’s face it. By the time your sales person gets to the new prospect meeting it’s likely that they already know about your product from searching the Internet. They’ve done their research and have educated themselves on your company and your competitors – and the solution.

So what does your sales person do? Do they talk about the features of the products, how long you’ve been in business, the happy customers you have – and the price. The truth is probably – and it’s wrong. Prospects don’t’ really care about you or your company. Decision makers don’t care about the awards you have won. Most people don’t care what other companies you have worked with.

Hands up if you’ve ever been in this situation. You win a new customer and then when you asked why did you choose us, their CEO says: “To be honest, you all (competitors included) said pretty much the same things and it wasn’t an easy decision.”

You only have to look at your website and your competitors website to realise that in fact you all look the same. No one says that have unhappy customers and no one says their products are second best.

One way you can differentiate is by encouraging your sales teams to take a different approach.

Work out how you’re different and talk about that

We need to talk about what we're bringing to the table that others are not bringing to the table. What are you really talented at? What is your core competence? What are you extremely talented at?

We’re all good at different things. It doesn't mean you can't do the other things and it doesn't mean you're not good at the other things. But you have strengths and you need to play to those strengths.

Doesn't it make sense therefore that we should ask questions that highlight our strengths rather than our weaknesses?

If you're leading with what the client wants to talk about, and what they want to talk about isn't your competency, you could be setting yourself up for a really tough road when it comes to selling to that client.

If you make sure your strengths come to the fore, it will allow you to talk about what you're good at.

Give this a try

"You may not have been asked this by anybody else you're talking to, but I'm just curious……"

What does that question say? You’re not saying you’re better than anybody else and you’re not me trashing your competitor.

What it does demonstrate, is you’re going deeper. You care more. No one else has asked this. You’re differentiating with questions.

Say: “No one else might have asked you this, but I'd like to know this.”

This technique also allows you to ask a question that might be a little off centre, because you're explaining to them why it's a little bit different and it doesn't take them by surprise. Because of course what you don’t want them thinking, "Why are they asking me that question? That's weird. No one else has asked me that."

We want them to think: "Well, that's a really good question. I wonder why no one else has asked me that." 


If you get a referral (introduction from someone else to the sales) try

How long have you known Mike?
Are you friends-friends, business friends, clients, advisors?

And here’s the killer question.

“What were you and Mike talking about when he suggested that we talk?


“Why did he suggest that we talk?”

The positioning question

“In recent weeks I’ve had calls from three CEOs of a similar company size to you and they’ve each told me their biggest frustration with the (enter your industry or product type) is (frustration that suits your business strength)… What has your experience been?”

Now think back again to the way you might have worked before.

“XXXXX is a company that prides itself on innovation. We spend 5% of revenues every year on R&D and have the latest technologies. We started the company 20 years ago and have won industry awards for the last 2 years running.”

Tell me a company that hasn’t.

A curiosity starts a change in human behavior. Try it.

More from Vistage:

  8 Sales Lessons Ebook for MDs

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