Questions are used in selling to discover something about people or their concerns about the product you would like to sell them. Every question is designed to gain some information that will be helpful in the closing of the sale. Remember, selling is 40 percent asking questions (discovery) 40 percent listening and 20 percent presenting or selling.

    There are some things that a good salesperson should never do:

  • Never ask questions that could have a double meaning. Use the "KISS principle" - keep it simple, stupid - when asking questions. Make sure they are direct to the point. Don't try to be clever or cute. Keep the subject matter simple and stay on one point at a time.

  • Never embarrass the prospect. Think about your questions; don't put the buyer into a corner or on the defensive.

  • Never ignore a person's answer to a question, even if its not what you wanted or expected. Keep in mind that every answer has a reason. The reason may be the way you asked the question. The best way to manage this situation is to briefly comment and move on, perhaps restating the question.

  • Avoid interrupting or putting words in someone's mouth. Let people answer until they have finished.

  • Don't ever ask a question that reflects insincerity.

  • Don't ask a question you know a person cannot answer. To embarrass prospects by having them admit they don't know the answer serves no purpose and leaves prospects waiting to get this interview over fast before it happens again.

    Know the answers before you ask

    There are some things you should want to do to make your interview process successful:

  • Prepare in advance. Think about what you really want to know and how the information will help you make the sale. Always have an opening question that is proven to make the interview move in the right direction. Don't "wing it."

  • Always ask questions you know can be answered. Unless you want a debate, ask questions you know prospects can answer and know where their answer will lead you.

  • Have a purpose in mind when you ask a question. Never ask a question that won't help you make the sale.

  • State the questions clearly and concisely.

  • Use a conversational tone in asking any question. Don't make any question seem more important than any other.

  • Allow ample time for the person to fully answer the question.

  • Listen to the answer and how it is given. Often there is some nonverbal communication clues given when answers are delivered.

  • Do not contradict answers, regardless of how wrong they may be. Saying things like "You are out of your mind" or "You are wrong" serves no purpose in getting the information you need. But make a mental note to cover this matter later in a positive way.

  • Recognize that each person will answer the same question differently. Every person is unique with different backgrounds and experiences. This is the reason no one series of questions will work for everyone.

  • Make people feel good about themselves. Many times, buyers will think their answers are making them seem foolish. Make sure that during the selling process you point out the intelligence of their answers.

    Listening is equally important and we'll talk about that next month.

    (Dave Gleason has more than 40 years of experience in contracting, engineering and wholesaling. He has put these experiences into a comprehensive consultation and training company called Systematic Selling Inc., which offers customized sales seminars and workshops. Contact him at 1165 Antioch Campground Road, Gainesville, GA 30506; phone (800) 447-7355; fax (717) 698-6555.)