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Powerful Questions, Positive Results

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I recently attended a webinar covering the subject of asking powerful sales questions. The topic is timely, as current business thinking teaches that every team member is in sales, no matter the person’s job description or title. An example I often hear comes from managers at construction firms who explain their customers keep coming back because of a certain project manager or foreman they can trust to get the job done. Every person who comes into contact with customers represents the best -- or worst – possibilities of working with the company.

Whether your job description is business development or designing building, planning a project’s schedule or working in the field, we’re all in sales. Asking the right questions gives insight to a client’s needs. Understanding needs helps delivers results – whether you’re a project foreman or sales representative.

The presentation began with an explanation that open-ended questions are best for building relationships. It’s so easy to ask questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no,” but they won’t uncover information that leads to success.

The speaker submitted that powerful, open-ended questions can be organized in four types:

  1. developing rapport 
  2. discovering goals and pain-points
  3. demonstrating influence
  4. setting the vision

Rapport. Often overlooked, “small talk” builds the bridge in connecting with others. It lays the groundwork for the rest of the conversation.

What did you do last weekend? When you learn about your contact’s personal life, remember to follow up in later conversations.

What’s going on in your business these days? You’ll demonstrate interest and find out what’s most important to your contact.

Goals and Pain Points. Sales questions often focus on “pain points,” but questions about goals and aspirations help uncover potential opportunities.

Why isn’t this [technology/system/product] working for you?  

What goals and objectives do you have?

What’s hindering you from reaching your goals?

Demonstrating Influence. These types of questions help uncover how working with you will make a difference for your contact.

What would happen to the company’s financial situation if you overcame these obstacles?

If you reach these goals, what would it mean to you personally?

Setting Vision. These questions paint the picture of where your contact wants to be and how working with you can get them there.

What do you see as being different if we moved forward together?

What does success look like for our work together?

No matter the question you ask, remember to ask in whatever way sounds most natural for you. Asking powerful questions that incorporate your personal style will create positive results in your business relationships.

What powerful questions do you like to ask? What questions would you add to this list? We’d like to hear what works for you! 

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Regardless of your area of study in school or title in your current position, we are all marketers.

Today’s global economy, high-tech business world and ever-changing business environment littered with buzzwords mandate a lifelong journey of education. As experts in marketing, communication, public relations and technical writing, the AOE Team is dedicated to helping you better hone your craft and serve your organization. Through industry workshops and seminars, columns in a variety of trade publications and other educational resources, we offer a variety of educational venues to assist you in your short- and long-term marketing objectives.


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