Engaging in full discovery

Bob Davis The Quality Conversation bookAn excerpt from The Quality Conversation by Bob Davis

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Pertinent personal questions

In most cases, you will start with pertinent personal questions. You do not, as the saying goes, have all day. In fact, the time to ask questions in some sales situations is very limited, so you need to ask the most pertinent, or relevant, personal questions. For example, in the case above about the interesting item at the grocery store, you might ask:

                                  • “How long have you been using the product?”
                                  • “How often do you use the product?”
                                  • “What do you like best about it?”
                                  • “What do you like the least about it?”

Questions that are not pertinent in this case are:

  • “What do you do for a living?”
  • “How much money do you make?”
  • “How much do you have in savings?”

You may be interested in these things, but they are not pertinent to finding out about the grocery item.

On the other hand, let’s say you sell financial services. Bridge into the questions by saying something like:

  • “To determine how I can be of maximum benefit to you, let me ask, what do you do for a living?”
  • “How much do you currently earn, and how much do you have in savings?”

 


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Let’s take a look at some additional examples of using pertinent personal questions.

You are calling business owners on the phone to sell advertising. Your pertinent personal questions might be:

  • “How long have you owned your business?”
  • “Do you have an overall marketing strategy?”
  • “What are your marketing goals for the coming year?”

You work for a cable company, and your job is to sell phone service to cable customers who call. You might ask these pertinent personal questions:

  • “Who is your current phone provider?”
  • “How about your mobile phone?”
  • “How much are you paying for these services?”

Remember that it is essential to bridge to these kinds of questions by saying something like, “Now that I was able to give you some savings on your phone plan, let me see if I can add some additional value on this call today by asking you, [pertinent personal question]?”

 

Open-ended versus yes/no questions

Instead of simple yes/no questions, The Quality Conversation calls for open-ended questions such as:

  • “What do you like best about this product?”
  • “What do you think is the most difficult or challenging part of your job?”

 

Issue questions

Once you have asked pertinent personal questions, the next step in full discovery is to ask issue questions. These questions, too, must be pertinent. Some examples of good issue questions are:

  • “Can you please tell me more about your goals?”
  • “What is your vision of your business three years from now?”
  • “What do you see as the barriers that may prevent you from achieving your goals and your vision?”
  • “In ballpark terms, how much have you spent in the past on projects like this?”
  • “Can you please walk me through your company’s decision-making process?”

With issue questions in Quality Conversations for sales, the goal is to uncover your customer’s issues that your product or service will solve. If you are selling photocopiers, you might ask:

  • “How many photocopiers do you have right now?”
  • “How old is the oldest machine?”
  • “What do you like best about your current machines?”
  • “What do you like least?”
  • “If you were to buy a new photocopier, what would you look for?”

 

Like/dislike questions

Let’s say you are talking to a potential customer about an existing supplier. You can ask, “What do you like best about your current supplier?” Many sales people are afraid to ask this question, but in truth it makes you seem more fair-minded to ask it. You can even ask follow-up questions such as, “In addition to that, what else do you like about your current supplier?”

Once your customers have talked about everything they like about the current supplier, they will be ready to answer your next question. That is, “What do you like least about your current supplier?” They will be more likely to answer this question in full, because you have been fair-minded enough to encourage them to talk about what they like. In addition, by knowing their likes and dislikes about their current supplier, you are in a better position to sell your product or service.

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