We’ve been on this topic a bit lately, but it is mission-critical to successful selling.  Asking questions…asking the right questions is tantamount to qualifying prospects.  Most sales managers know this, yet we often see them displaying selective amnesia when it comes to interviewing sales candidates.

Case in point:  Lee often observes sales managers who are underwhelmed with a candidate because the candidate didn’t “wow” them.  That’s understandable, but many times the manager isn’t wowed because the candidate is qualifying the opportunity instead of spewing feature/benefits.  It is at this point that Lee has to mention the different questions that the candidate asked in their responses and the information that candidate gathered in the interview.  What ends up happening is that the sales manager is answering questions and doesn’t pay as much attention to the question pattern of the candidate.

After the manager recounts the questions, they tend to be impressed with the candidate’s subtle ability.  Clearly there is more to it than just asking questions. Candidates need to be able to use the information they gather in an effective manner otherwise it is all for naught.  Yet, success starts with their questioning ability.

ManageSmarter.com offers a strong article titled Three Mistakes Every Sales Rep Makes Every Day.  From Mistake #2:

Prospects and clients share one commonality across all industries: they have a problem (or they wouldn’t be talking to you) and they are looking for help (a solution to that problem). The key to identifying a prospect’s “pain” is questions, questions and more questions. Going into a sales call/presentation, a customer/prospect expects the “pitch”—they expect that you will try and sell them on your product/service. What most don’t expect—and what separates the No.1 rep from the No. 10—is that you have a vested interest in not only their company’s success, but also their personal success. Prospects and clients love to talk about their company and its successes/struggles; you just have to open the door.

Perfect.  The personal success point is an important distinction within the paragraph.

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