Hey guys, this is Steli Efti with Close.io.
I want to talk about the art of asking powerful questions and actually getting real answers
to those questions. A lot of times when you qualify a prospect, you have to ask a bunch
of questions to truly understand who they are and if they’re a good fit and how to
sell to them effectively. Many times when I teach that asking questions is the most
important skill in sales, people tell me, “Yes Steli but people get annoyed when you
ask them too many questions.” I get this all the time where people just,
“How can I ask questions without annoying people, without getting to kind of a conversational
dynamic that’s not natural anymore and without having the prospect actually raise up their
defenses and their mental blocks because they’re feeling like they’re being attacked by all
these questions?” First, how to not ask questions correctly and then get these kind
of outcomes. Too many times I see people asking questions
to prospects as if they’re reading it off a list. As if it’s irrelevant, what the
answer is every question seems to just get a checkpoint from the person asking it to
get to the next question. You get people going, “Dear prospect, tell me, how many people
in your company would use our product?” the prospect goes, “I don’t know really
maybe about five to 10 people.” “Tell me, what kind of features are the
most important ones for you?” “For us it’s really important that it has feature
X, Y and Z.” “Cool, yeah we do provide all these features.”
“Dear prospect let me ask you another question?” Do you see how the dynamic is fucked up? It
doesn’t matter what I answer, the person just goes, “Sure, sure, great!” this is
another bad thing to do. After every answer you say, “Great,” or
“Sure” or “Awesome,” or something. It’s like, “Really, is every answer I
give awesome or great or are you just happy that you got some answer and you just want
to move on with your life?” Male: It can be awesome and great.
It could be, but it also could be that you just say that to everything and everybody
and you just want to get to the next question. When you have a dynamic like that where somebody
asked you questions and it doesn’t seem like they care about the answer, they just
want to go on with the next question, you feel like you’re being interrogated. You
feel like you’re wasting time. It’s a pretty frustrating experience and it doesn’t
feel great to be that person that’s being asked all these questions.
The other thing is when you’re super authoritarian and you just go, “How many people do you
guys have over there?” Calm down, bro. I’m not like … you’re
not police. I’m not at custody. I don’t have to answer all your questions. Chill out,
maybe you want to ask in a way that suggests that you’re curios, that you care and that
I have the power to answer or not answer. Not that you are some authority and you’re
demanding answers. That’s not going to work. That’s not going to be a pleasant experience.
You want to have the mind frame that you truly care to reach what I call full understanding.
You want to fully understand the other person. Think of it as in painting by numbers. It’s
not enough to just get an outline of who they are. It’s not enough to just get an outline
of what you’re painting, them just telling you it’s a house, it’s a tree is not enough
detail for you to truly paint the right picture. You have to ask, what kind of tree? How big?
What’s going on in the surrounding? Are we fully zoomed in on the tree or is it a
landscape mode? What color schemes do we use? You need to ask a lot more questions to get
the full picture and to make sure that what you’re painting is accurate with what they’re
living or what they have in mind. What you want to do is truly care. Caring is the number
one mindset you need to apply and utilize to ask questions in a way that people want
to give you the right answers, and want to give you as many answers as you need. You
want to care. You want to care enough that you really want to understand, not just care
enough to ask the question but care enough to desire understanding.
You want to go deep and not stay at the surface level. An easy way to give you a practical
mode to think like that is that you want to have to do as little as possible of interpreting
what they’re saying. When they say, “We just care about ease of use.” You don’t
want to interpret and go, “Oh ease of use, I know what they mean by that. They want something
to be fast and the U.I. to be really flashy and cool and fancy,” and make interpretations
of what that word means. Instead of doing that, you want to ask them,
“Hey, what do you mean when you say ease of use? What about it needs to be easy? What
about the experience needs to be easy? Do you have an example of an application or product
or a service or something you’re using that hits that requirement for you, something that
would demonstrate to me, “What do you mean or what kind of products you’re looking
for when you’re thinking about ease of use? See what I’m doing right now. I’m going
deep. I’m not just staying at the surface, not
just taking the first thing they say and run with it, not just take the first thing they
say and interpret and make interpretations and extrapolations into what that might mean.
I ask them, “What does that mean? Do you have an example of that for me, something
that would make it more practical, more exemplify that mole? Rather than just taking your words,
I want to find something in the real world I can look at that demonstrates that to me.
When you ask these questions, don’t just stay at the surface because it means you don’t
give a crap but actually go deep. I’ll give you an example. The two questions I asked
earlier where I said, “How many people would use this? What features or functionalities
would be important?” let’s rewind and do this right. If I ask a prospect, “Hey,
how many people in your team would actually use our product?” the person goes, “I
don’t know, maybe four or five.” You go, “Cool, tell me about these people. Have
they been around in the company for a long time? Have they just joined?” how long has
it taken you to get this kind of a team? What’s the workflow like? Are they all working from
the same location or different ones? Let me ask you, moving forward in the next
12 months, is that team going to grow and if so, how and to how many? What’s the dynamic
between the different people? If they’re all on the same team it’s one thing but
maybe there’s a few people that are in sales or a few people that are in support? How do
they interact? How do they communicate, any friction in the past, anything that we could
do to anticipate the dynamics between the team and how it relates to our product? See
how I’m going deep in trying to truly understand what that means? Why is it only five? How
big is the entire company? “We’re 5000 people.” “Wow, how come only five of 5000
will use our product? Is it some kind of a task force, a special
group? Is it a removed team that works on something special or is it a small pilot test
run that you would scale to thousands? Tell me more about it. See how that information
can completely change the picture of the information that you just got? Go deep, ask follow up
questions to get to true understanding because once you understand someone you can effectively
sell to them and effectively means get them to buy quick if it’s the right thing. Then
when they buy, get them to get success out of it and be happy and successful with your
product or service. The other thing is that because most conversations
– most of the time when people ask us questions they don’t truly care about understanding.
They only stay at the surface level. When you do, you stand out? Nothing is more powerful
in building rapport and building a relationship than having someone feel truly understood
by you. If somebody feels truly understood by you they will trust you. They will feel
better about you and about their relationship with you? They will want to talk more to you
and spend more time with you. We’ve all felt that there are certain people that we
feel truly understood by. How do we feel about these people versus others
that we think that they don’t really get who we are? They just know superficially who
we are and what we need but not really deeply. It makes a massive difference in the relationship
you built. Last on the point of asking questions, some of you might now ask, this is all good.
It’s good to know but how do I do this? I’m not experienced in asking so many questions.
I’m not experienced in truly going to the depth of the question and reaching understanding.
How can I make sure that I do this right? The only way to get it right is to do it a
lot and to practice. How about recording some of your prospecting
calls or qualifying calls or qualifying conversations? How about practicing this with your team members
and getting feedback from them? Hey, was this a smooth experience? Did I ask you the right
question? Did you feel that I truly cared about you that I really wanted to understand
you or did you just feel like I’m going through a list? Was it annoying in any way?
How about practicing it and getting feedback from others and working on your craft to becoming
a very powerful and effective question asker. Being good at asking questions and knowing
how to ask the right questions can set you apart from all the rest in the market and
can make a massive difference in how many deals you end up closing or not closing.
I would suggest that you practice asking the right questions as much as you practice giving
the best pitch or making the best demo presentation. I hope this was useful. If you have any questions
that you want to ask, any follow up questions to this topic, send me an email to [email protected],
write a comment, subscribe to a channel. Reach out, tweet to us, let this conversation move
forward and let’s add to the conversation and see if we get to a better and better understanding
on how to become better at asking the right questions and how we can all work on our craft
or the conversation and become better at it and more effective at it. All right, now go
out there and get them