Your Most Powerful Sales Tool


John Nieuwenburg

John Nieuwenburg has been a professional business coach since 2004. Prior to becoming a coach, he held executive positions with Tip Top Tailors and BC Liquor Stores. In 2019, MacKay CEO Forums awarded him with Canada’s CEO Trusted Advisor Award in the Small Business category. Since becoming a coach, John has worked with over 350 clients, taking them through a systematic process that helps them feel organized, confident and in control of their businesses.

Your Most Powerful Sales Tool

Did you have a great weekend?  You are probably wondering what that question has to do with sales. Now, pause a moment, and think about what you did when you read that question.  Your mind probably flashed back to the weekend, and you saw a picture in your mind’s eye of what you did.  Then you recalled your response to the weekend, and made a judgement on whether it was a great weekend or not.

Here’s the point.  I was able to guide your thinking by asking you a question.  That’s an illustration of the power of a question.  It directs an individual’s thinking. That’s what makes asking a good question the single most effective thing you can do with a client.  A well-phrased, appropriately-timed question is your most powerful sales tool.

Here’s what good questions can do for you…

1.   Good questions direct your client’s thinking.

When you use a good question, or a series of good questions, you penetrate your prospect’s mind and direct his/her thinking.  There is something in human beings that makes it almost impossible not to think of the answer when we are asked a question.  I’m not sure whether it’s something genetic, or whether we’re conditioned from birth to always think of the answer to a question.  Here’s an illustration.  I’ll ask you a question, but I want you to not think of the answer.  How old are you? If you’re like most of us, you thought of the answer, even after I indicated you shouldn’t. Similarly, you perform a service for your clients when you ask them good questions.  Your questions direct their minds along certain paths, and help them clarify their thinking.

2.   A good question is your best means of collecting the information that will help you construct a sale.

How do you know what a client thinks, or what his/her situation is, unless you ask a question?  If you’re selling a new vacuum cleaner, for example, you first ask questions to discover the buyer’s needs so that you are able to point out the specific features of the vacuum that meet those needs.  Without first asking questions, you’re reduced to working on assumptions about the needs and interests of your clients. You will do a far better job of selling your products and services if you first use good questions to understand your client’s needs and interests.  Good questions help you to see into the mind and heart of your clients, and equip you with the knowledge necessary to make the sale.

3.   Good questions build relationships.

The act of asking good questions shows that you care about the person and his/her problems.  The more questions you ask about your client, the more he/she feels your interest.  The law of reciprocity indicates that the more interest you show in a client, the more likely that client will be interested in you.

4.   Good questions convey the perception of your competence.

In other words, your client sees you as competent and trustworthy…not necessarily by what you say…rather by what you ask.  When we shop for something we have never bought before, the only thing we can think of is “how much is it?” This is your opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and educate your client on the things they should be considering before making up their minds.

Every one of your clients wants to feel that the sales person he/she is dealing with is competent.  You convey that perception by asking good questions about the details of your clients’ needs and applications.  Mastering the use of good questions…the salesperson’s single most powerful interpersonal tool…in every aspect of your sales interactions will dramatically improve your results.

How good are your questions?


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