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How to become curious and increase your sales results

by Marguerite Zimmerman


Fear plays a big role in why we don’t ask enough questions or the right questions.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed a reluctance amongst sales people to ask questions that are provocative. Provocative questions are essential when helping a prospect or customer to consider change, yet some sales representatives are uncomfortable asking these questions. Why is this?

After discussing it with a few Momentium coaches, we identified 3 concerns:

  1. Many sales representatives don’t really understand “why” or the purpose behind the questions, or what they are trying to get to.
  2. Many sales representatives truly don’t know what questions to ask.
  3. Many sales representatives are fearful of asking questions that are provocative.

Addressing point 1 makes the most sense first.

Imagine for instance you sell something that has very little differentiation in the market. Imagine further that what differentiates you are the intangibles, things like how you help your customer, and/or their end customer, do business with your product a bit easier. This is a typical selling environment for the majority of B2B sellers today. It has become increasingly rare to have a product or service that remains differentiated. Most differentiation is around the intangibles.

So, the question is, what questions are essential to ask to a prospect that sees no need to change? Many representatives believe they are in the trucking business, or the electronic components business, or the software business, etc. First, we must understand what business we are in and it must reflect the intangibles as this is what our customer buys. Then and only then can we help our sales representatives to understand “why” they need to ask the questions.

Now let’s examine point 2.

Assuming your sales force now understands the “why” behind their questions or what they are really trying to achieve, you can start to identify and build questions that create contrast with your competition. The questions ideally help your prospect to envision a preferred future or something they wish to avoid.

Build a list of questions that are tailored to your business. Ensure the questions are provocative and that they help a buyer through each of the steps in their buying process.

Finally, let’ examine point 3.

In our experience working with teams, they gain insight into how these questions are framed and how they help a buyer through each step of their buying process. Yet, often some sales representatives won’t make these questions their own and try them. Typically, this comes back to fear and risk aversion.

If you fear asking new questions, consider how you can practice these questions in a safe environment, such as:

  1. Practice the questions in a learning simulation, like Momentium.
  2. Practice using the questions in a mock call with a colleague.
  3. Use the question with a current customer that is a small account or where you have a very strong relationship – in other words where the risk is negligible.
  4. Use the question with a prospect that you have determined is not a great fit for you.

Growing your sales force’s capability and comfort around asking questions is an effective way to increase curiosity in your workplace in an effective way.

Remember the curious are fearless.

About Marguerite
Marguerite Zimmerman is CEO of E=mz2 Inc. & Founder of Momentium. Her career has been dedicated to helping sales forces maximize their performance.
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How to become curious and increase your sales results