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Todd is a manager in the technology field with qualifications in data networking, voice over IP telephony, technical sales, blogging, and marketing, both print and electronic.

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Monday, June 26, 2006
Ask More Questions
It doesn't matter what you are selling or how long you have been doing it, if you want to increase your closing ratio, ask more questions. You should do this anywhere in the selling process. Here is a great example of what not to do.

We recently had a sales guy walk out because he just wasn't cut out for sales. Since he walked out, two of us split his old accounts (thanks!). He had one account that he had been touting for quite some time as whale. Today our other salesman called that account only to find out there is no opportunity there. They source all of their equipment through a company with which we already have an account. He had been calling on this account for months and never asked if there was an opportunity there.

You must ask questions to qualify your prospect.

I see so many sales people go into a presentation and talk for sometimes an hour or more without stopping. Then they start their fact finding. You should be fact finding throughout your entire presentation. Nobody has an attention span to listen to every word you say for an hour. I once read that the average person could listen for only about two minutes without being engaged. Try to develop a timer that goes off in your head every two minutes that reminds you to ask a question. If you don't have a good one, I like "Does that make sense?". This will not only pull your prospect back in, but will also make sure you have not lost your prospect. Most people will not stop you to tell you they don't understand. There is nothing worse than talking for an hour only to find out you lost your prospect fifty five minutes ago. A word of caution though, if you ask "Does that make sense?" every two minutes, your prospect will want to choke you.

Set your two minute question timer.

I recently sat in on a role playing training with a gentleman who has been selling for twenty years. He was teaching the training and he was having people throw objections at him. For every objection, he had an answer. Immediately. This is fundamentally wrong.

There are two types of people when it comes to problems. There are problem oriented people and solution oriented people. Most of the population is problem oriented. These are the people who find a problem, stress about it, tell the whole world about the problem they are having, and allow that problem to be a barrier. As you can guess, these are not usually the successful people. As a professional salesperson, you must be a solution oriented person. You hold the solution to someone else's problem. Here is where the breakdown begins.

When a prospect throws an objection (problem) at you, it is very real to them and it may be a very big deal to them. When you slap the answer right back at them, it really doesn't matter how right you are. That prospect is now on the defensive. Handling an objection is like peeling an onion. You must keep peeling away layers until you get to the real objection. You do that by asking questions.

One of the many seminars I have attended was put on by Blair Singer. He is a phenomenal trainer, and he says you should ask five questions before you handle their objections. This is tough, but if you even get to three questions, chances are you will knock that rebuttal clean out of the park. Many times, they will talk themselves out of their objection before you get to five questions.

You must ask questions to handle objections.

The last place you want to ask question is when closing. That is a topic all in itself.

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