Selling a product to a customer is not a one-sided transaction. There must be communication from not only your side but also from the customer’s side. If you do not know what your customer’s story is, how will you ever know if what you are selling is something your customer actually needs or wants? There is no use in trying to convince a customer to buy a product in which they ultimately see no value.
Asking certain essential questions will help you determine what your customer needs and if you can provide them something that will fulfil those needs:
What are the challenges you face?
What are the things that are a constant uphill battle for the company you are selling to? Remember, the questions you ask should always focus on the customer and not on you as a seller. Focusing on their challenges and their needs show that you are not there to simply sell them a product but to find out how you can make their lives easier.
Give a real-life example of one of the challenges you face?
Asking for a real-life example makes it more of a personal statement instead of a general one. A customer will be more likely to want a solution for a problem when that problem is something that is personally frustrating to them. You can use connect your product or service to the example they provide to connect your product or service to it and make it more relevant to them as an individual.
What costs are attached to the challenges mentioned?
A challenge really needs to be costing a customer something in order for that customer to want to do something about it. And don’t simply think of cost as something monetary but also, perhaps, the problem is wasting valuable time that could be utilized better elsewhere. Perhaps the problem is demotivating staff which could lead to them being less productive than they can be. Monetary cost is important (because money is a thing you can physically see disappear after a period) but don’t discount the value of emotional or productivity cost. If the customer doesn’t seem too worried about something that doesn’t cost them money, then show them how losing productivity can end up costing the company money.
What would the implications be to you to have these problem solved or fixed?
This question will tell you whether the customer is even motivated to solve the problem. If not, why would they want to buy a product that will solve the problem? Should fixing the challenge not seem like a life-changing thing, the customer may not feel inspired enough to look for or consider a solution. If the implications of fixing the problem are significant enough, you know you will have a better chance at convincing the buyer that they need to use your product or services in order to move ahead.
What do you want to accomplish?
What is the buyer’s two-year or five-year plan? What goals are they aiming to achieve within a certain time period? If you know where your prospect plans on going, you know more easily where you fit in. You can sell your product or service as something that will help them achieve their goals. And instead of referring to goals in general, you now have specific examples to refer to in order to make the interaction even more personal.
There are many other questions that one can ask but these are the ones who will help you more easily get to the gist of your prospect’s needs and challenges. Don’t ask how your buyer can fit in with your plan but rather think about how you can convince them that you fit into theirs.