As customers, we can all relate to times when we contact a company or pop into a store enquiring about a product or service. Generally, the person answering the phone announces the company name in a friendly and professional manner. Likewise, if we are in a store the person welcomes us, each of them asking how they can help and the conversation begins.
If we know exactly what we want we tell the assistant what we need. On occasion, they may ask us a few questions to clarify further and determine the exact fit. The order is taken and the transaction completed.
However, there may be times when we are unsure about what we want, we may need more information or perhaps guidance to make the right decision. This is where the sales person moves from being the “order taker” to the “order maker”.
In my experience, this is where many salespeople fall down. They don’t seem to be able to distinguish between the two types of sales and they lose sight of what is required.
For example, imagine you decide to buy a mobile phone but don’t know what you want. The sales agent launches into the usual questions around what model or make you have in mind and perhaps asks the budget. These are the fact-finding questions (and you still left feeling confused).
The agent presents what they have based on these details only. Sometimes there may be lots of options to choose from, so the conversation goes back and forth with the agent asking “Do you want a smart phone?”, “Do you want 4G?”, etc. After a few minutes both people get a little bored or frustrated.
As the customer you may also become overwhelmed and leave – so the sale is lost. Other times, you buy the wrong product or service and your experience of the product or service is just okay or not great at all.
Fact-finding question are useful especially when people know what they want - yet I find quite a lot of sales people focus on them too much. They don’t help when the customer is unsure, needs guidance and when there are too many choices. This is when we need to drill down using delving questions.
Delving questions are used to find out what the customer really likes. They help us identify their priorities, opinions, preferences, their level of knowledge and how they may wish to use the product or service. By asking the right questions, we can unravel what the customer truly wants and give them the right advice. In other words, make the shift from “order taking to order making”.
A good sales person should also assure the customer they and would like to ask a few quick questions, so they can help them pick the right product or service.
In the example of the mobile phone, the type of delving questions a good sales person might ask include anything from “Is the phone for business or personal usage?”, “How much time do they use the phone?”, “What feature do they use mostly on their phone?”, “What size of phone do they have in mind?”, “What’s the must have on the phone?”, “How important is a good camera/speaker/etc on their phone?” plus many more.
By asking these questions, not only is the sales person finding out what the customer likes or dislikes, they can quickly ascertain their level of knowledge of the product or service. So, when the salesperson presents back, they have the advantage of knowing the best fit for the customer and how to pitch it too. Ultimately, the sales person has a better chance of getting the sale and customers will have better experience too.