Posted by: brandextenders | August 11, 2011

Question All the Answers

No, this isn’t a treatise on radicalism or communism although some of these ideas may be revolutionary depending on how you go about your work.

Question the Answers

I’ve always heard the best lawyers never ask questions they don’t already know the answers to. What these jurists do with questions is get confirmation of what they already know and pass that information on to the jury through witnesses. For those of us in sales, we need to do research prior to meeting with clients, but our questions truly need to draw answers from our prospects and customers that can lead to additional questions for clarification.

There’s a term I often hear in the promotional products industry called “Show up and throw up” which refers to someone who sells by throwing a bunch of samples on someone’s desk that may or may not be relevant to their needs. It’s one of the reasons our industry is known as trinkets and trash because so many sell “stuff” not ideas or concepts based on needs. To set yourself apart immediately from your competition start by asking questions, but first:

  1. Do Your Research: To ask good questions you need to know something about the person/company you’re calling on. Use Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other sites to find out what you can about this person and/or company. What do they do, what are their strategies, points-of-pain, who are their competitors? The more you know going in, the better the questions you’ll be able to formulate.
  2. Know what to ask: Although there are basic questions all salespeople can ask, many of those answers should be uncovered in your research. Confirm information you found, but ask questions others don’t. Be curious and really work to put yourself in the shoes of the person across the table or desk from you. The more you learn the better you’ll be at understanding how your products and services can benefit them.
  3. Listen: You may think it silly I include this here, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t. They’ll ask a question and then start formulating a follow-up question, thinking about the tee time they have for Saturday or what time they have to pick up their kid from football. Listening is not passive; it’s something you have to actively do. Take notes and question the answers you get with good follow-up questions. This is not the time to tell this prospect or customer all about your family, your kids, what you did on your summer vacation or how you’ve just returned from Hawaii. They don’t care. They care about how you can help them so ask questions that will aid you in doing just that.

To get you started, here are a few basic questions. These are geared towards promotional marketing however all can be changed to fit your particular sales niche:

  • How did you come to be in this position with (name of their company here)?
  • How does your company differentiate itself from the competition?
  • What is it you’re most proud of in your work? What has been your best promotion so far?
  • What areas of your responsibility are you looking to strengthen?
  • How do you measure your return on investment?
  • How do you use promotional products to brand/market your company?

Developing questions is not as easy as it sounds and not all questions are appropriate for every customer. Intrigue your prospect and customers with the questions you ask because it will set you apart from your competitors. Then use that information to develop unique and creative solutions that are measurable and help them move their business forward.

Question the answers and use them to help grow your own sales and become a trusted advisor vs. just another sales schlock.

I work with my customers to evaluate their promotional marketing needs and develop creative and measurable solutions based on those needs. I build long-term relationships to become a trusted advisor my clients turn to for their brand extension, promotional product, incentive and other branding needs. Contact me at stephen.woodburn@staplespromoproducts.com

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