Question: I have heard that the most important personal skill in selling my product and service is “listening.” Is that true?

Answer: You cannot sell anything without being a good listener. You have no idea what the customer wants if you don’t listen. But first, you have to learn how to ask the right questions. Closing the sale is dependent on having the right information about the customer’s needs. Every sale begins with a discovery process, and that means asking questions. But most people are afraid to ask the tough questions? What are your expectations if you make this purchase? What are you willing to spend to achieve this level of satisfaction? What will it take for us to do business?

So what are some of the elements to asking the right questions?

  • Ask open-ended questions, so the customer has to talk to you and “tell” you about their situation, the problems they are facing and what they want or need in the way of a solution
  • Start with simple questions: What is your current situation? What problems does this cause for you? What are the implications of having those problems? What do you see as a potential solution? Then get to more difficult questions.
  • Remember, “why” as a way of getting the prospect to talk more to you about their buying motivation. What will cause them to buy from you?
  • Don’t be afraid that the prospect will be put off if you ask some tough questions. They expect it. They know you are there to sell them and you cannot provide them with a solution that will work if you don’t ask good, probing questions. Just make sure the potential buyer understand that the purpose of your questions is to more fully understand how you can serve them more effectively. Information is the tool of sales and the only way we can get the right information is to ask.


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