5 questions to ask to understand your buyer

The better you understand a prospective customer or client, the more easily you can tailor your selling strategy for success with that specific person. Still, this kind of advice does not appear to have been readily heeded by many salespeople, who often instead opt to ‘show up and throw up’.

This is where the salesperson simply lists various features in quick succession before asking the other person to purchase. However, you really should ask questions along the following lines first...

"Where did you buy that phone?"

This would be an example of what The Balance Careers calls "rapport-building questions". While you might decide to ask about something other than a phone if you aren't seeking to sell a phone or any related product or service, your main aims here are getting the prospect chatting and fostering trust.

Through pursuing these aims, you can learn where that person's likes and dislikes lie, and portray yourself as a trustworthy person offering potentially useful items to buy.

"How did you buy this type of product?"

Although simply asking when the prospect last bought the product could elicit a very short response, you could encourage a more detailed answer by asking how exactly they bought it.

It doesn't matter whether that person bought it in a traditional over the-counter method or online, and whether they paid with cash or a mobile payment service like Apple Pay. Ultimately, you are attempting to garner insight into their buying experience, how well it went, and why or why not.

"Tell me about your favourite service experience"

Going for the ‘show up and throw up’ method often fails, because it does not clearly show how the prospect could benefit from the advertised product or service.

"Selling is about understanding the perspective of the buyer and then tailoring your sales process according to that," business guru Mark Roberge has been quoted as saying by Forbes. You can effectively develop that understanding by asking open-ended questions, such as the one above.

"Have we ever recently failed to meet your expectations?"

Compared to the previous question, this could risk prompting a simple and scarcely useful "yes" or "no" answer. However, Inc. calls this question a "great" one to ask, as it would entail focusing on not only an extreme of service, but also a relatively recent time frame.

By asking questions along these lines, you can gain actionable information.

"What challenges do you face in our areas of expertise?"

One particularly clever line of questioning could start with you highlighting the main challenges with which your company tends to help clients after the other challenge – one for which you are currently advertising solutions – is tackled by those clients with your company's help.

After listing those extra challenges, you could ask the prospect whether they are facing them, too. When you take advantage of sales training, you could pick up even more sales skills – phone us on 020 3859 0707 to learn exactly how you could benefit.

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