In the age of empowered buyers, business is often won by the sales person who asks the best questions. Deb Calvert, president and founder of People First Productivity Solutions, has written the essential field guide for sales professionals who want to learn how to ask those questions.
Today’s buyers have access to unprecedented levels of information: product specifications, pricing, customer reviews, competitive comparisons. It’s all a few clicks away. They don’t need sales professionals to tell them what they can easily learn elsewhere, and will resent (if it happens at the wrong point in their buying process) being “sold.”
What they do want is consultative guidance, especially when it involves co-creating unique value.
Of course, the notion that asking the right questions is key to sales success is nothing new. Mike Bosworth’s Solution Selling remains a classic guide to asking smart selling questions.
But sales pros who’ve read Bosworth’s book often have two reactions: 1) It’s an incredibly valuable guide, particularly when selling complex, high-value products, but 2) it’s incomplete, not delving deeply enough into question design, particularly for open queries.
That’s where DISCOVER Questions Get You Connected fills in needed detail. Bosworth’s book focused on the “what” of successful sales questioning; Deb’s book details the “how” of crafting high-value questions that will get to the root of buyer needs and set you apart as a seller.
(Incidentally, both books are featured on HubSpot’s list of the top 20 sales books of all time.)
Questions are vital not only to surfacing latent pain and buyer needs, but even more fundamentally as a way to build trust. So Deb’s book begins with a chapter detailing the 12 dimensions of trust.
The lowest levels of trust will be familiar to almost anyone. These begin with competence (demonstrating the skills and knowledge to serve as a business advisor) and integrity (consistently making ethical choices).
But many people may not consider or understand the importance of higher level dimensions of trust. Among these are discretion (respecting confidentiality and sharing information only with approval) and constructive intent (avoiding defensiveness by communicating that motives are not self-serving).
Following chapters reviewing the structure and value of a needs-based selling approach (which successful sellers with deep experience may choose to skip over) comes the “meat” of the book: the DISCOVER Questions framework, an acronym for the eight key types of inquiries:
- Data questions
- Issue questions
- Solution questions
- Consequence questions
- Outcome questions
- Value questions
- Example questions
- Rationale questions
The author explains how to formulate high-value questions at each stage—that is, questions the buyer will view as interesting and insightful, as well as helping you advance the sale. More importantly, she explains how to ask these questions while maintaining buyer trust and staying in alignment with their purchasing process.
Today’s buyers do their homework, and have tools like never before to learn about your offerings. Recent research shows that two-thirds of the typical b2b buyer’s journey is now done digitally, before they ever contact a seller.
At that point, they buyer knows what your product does and (about) how much it costs. What they don’t know is why they should from you. Knowing your product is important to be sure, but knowing how to differentiate yourself is even more vital.
Asking high-value questions that position you as a trusted advisor will differentiate you. And reading DISCOVER Questions Get You Connected will teach you how to formulate those questions.