The Art of Asking Great B2B Questions
The World Over...despite cultural subtitles and nuance, the profession of selling is amazingly similar. There are critical answers that must be revealed, analyzed, prioritized and converted to value. This value is created from carefully chosen words, and when structured with fore-thought, may create a uniquely differentiated offering. Clearly, critical thinking is required for success...
It's Driven By The QUESTIONS!
However, critical thinking is not driven by the answers,
Artist Linda Woods
"Know a person clever by their answers but wise by their questions"
Naguib Mahfouz Nobel Prize Literature
Technical Innovation vs Person To Person Innovation
It's no secret that all companies thrive on innovation. They thrive on creating it and they thrive on acquiring it. Even sales training and sales enablement organizations are eager to find ways of being more innovative. However, the greatest gains may not necessarily be found in technologies or applications. While the technology benefits are valuable, they don't create innovation at the most critical junction, "the human to human connection".
Today's question should be...
"Where is the innovation for the connection between real people, the innovation
for more effective verbal communications between Buyer & Seller?"
What exactly is required for more effective communications? It may well start with being genuinely curious. It's people being curious about each others situation, the remedy of things that need resolution, and the creation of ways to extend what's going well.
So, if technology or application doesn't help with more effective communication, then what does?
It's The Questions We Ask... questions that are thought-provoking , questions that show empathy, questions that foreshadow understanding, questions that extend the thought process, questions that create new thoughts, questions that stir the imagination, questions that suggest the Buyer is speaking with a relevant salesperson, questions that smack of genuineness and authenticity, questions that let a Buyer know this will be different than the last 4 conversations they experienced with previous sales reps.
Great Questioning Has A Rippling Effect Across The Entire Spectrum of Selling
Culture & Compatibility
Take This Simple Yet Profound Challenge...
What is the one "single thing" that has the ability to increase the skills
and effectiveness of every aspect of B2B ?
Surprisingly, that one thing is also the most over-looked & under-developed skill in all of selling...
the skill of structuring & asking purposeful, intentful, and thought-provoking questions l
"As a rising tide lifts all boats, so too, do great questions elevate every function of professional selling" B Knight 2018
Ask yourself a few critical questions about these important topics:
What is the root cause of the majority of deal slippage and inaccurate forecasts?
While there can be numerous reasons, the likely culprit is often tied to a lack of consequential questioning with the Buyer. This type of questioning leads to the identification of various Buyers risks. One remedy might be series of questions that explore the financial, operational, and competitive consequences of delaying or missing the targeted start date. Also, questioning the potential advantages of accelerating the time to implement. Additionally, the total value of the offering may not have been fully established, minimizing the sense of urgency.
What is the primary reason for weak or losing negotiations?
One of biggest causes of poor negotiations is the failure to uncover, via questioning, the Buyers true BATNA
(Best Alternative To No Agreement). Failure to uncover these critical answers, early cycle, may have the Seller negotiating on low price, late cycle. Trying to address this issue late cycle, while sitting at the negotiation table, is not a strategy for success!
( Note: if unfamiliar with the term BATNA, you may want to discuss 2Question's negotiation offering
How can Sellers avoid the frequent and sometimes unnecessary reliance on discounting?
In addition to "see above answer", make sure to ask the Buyer isolation questions. Isolation questions are asked when the Seller already knows the answer to the question and that when these questions are answered, the Buyer will reveal, unforced and in their own words, the value of the Buyers' "must have" requirements. The Seller, knowing that they address this issue in a unique and better way than their competitor, essentially will isolate the competitor from being seriously considered. These questions, thoughtfully applied, put the Seller into a superior competitive position.
What may be the easiest way for Sellers to differentiate themselves?
In a scenario I refer to as, "Buyer-Biased Behavior" (B-Cubed) Buyers have become weary of too many Sellers who simply want to "sell versus solve" and sound exactly like the last 4 sellers that they didn't buy from. The ultimate impact was that Buyers became predisposed to believe that Sellers do not truly understand their business. When Buyers were queried as to why they believed that Sellers did not understand their business, they replied, "I can tell by the questions they ask". By replacing the boring & universally common "can you tell me" questions with more thought-provoking questions, the Seller will not only be viewed as different but also more relevant. When the Buyer views the offerings to be almost identical, the final difference maker may be which Seller was most credible and understanding of the Buyers' situation.
Buyers remember those Sellers who made them think!