This post was originally published on Salesforce.com.
Sales tips are everywhere these days. Whether it’s a best-selling book that every VP of Sales recommends, a list of productivity tools the top sales rep in the industry swears by, or the rules of engagement your first boss ever taught you — there are millions of sales “hacks” at a rep’s disposal.
But what if all of those hacks are just white noise? Sure, everyone has their own flow and what works best for their sales process, but the fact of the matter is: sales is a basic game of problem solving — providing buyers with a supply for their demand.
The best way to discover a buyer’s problem is to listen to them talk about their process and what roadblocks they are hitting on a day to day basis. But to uncover a prospect’s roadblocks, you must first ask intentional questions about their daily process.
That’s why the most important skill a sales rep can perfect is GREAT question asking.
Sounds simple enough — ask good questions, get good answers. But there’s a difference between good question asking and great question asking, and that difference is practice. Just like any skill, practice makes perfect, and in the case of perfecting a sales reps’ question-asking repertoire, these three tips should sharpen your skills:
1. Make a list
Create a list of questions (as many as you can think of) and strike through them as you ask each question. Try to accomplish at least 15 of them on a sales call without annoying or pushing the buyer too much.
2. Get comfortable
Practice your pitch on teammates, coworkers, friends, family… anyone who will engage and give you honest feedback. Use this comfort level to get really great at uncovering pain points in a way that flows naturally.
3. Pick up the pace
Believe it or not, studies show that reps who spend less time on the phone with a prospect are more successful than those who chat for longer. Keep it short and sweet by limiting sales conversations to under five minutes apiece. This brevity will force you to get to the point faster and reach a better result with your prospect.
Be brief, be brilliant, be gone.” — Derek Grant
The process of uncovering a prospect’s pain points is the key to your sales opportunities. But more often than not, buyers won’t know their pain points off the top of their head. The only way to get to them is through really specific, intentional questions. Once you’ve perfected this skill of exceptional question asking, prospects will have no choice but to stop, listen, and determine how their problems can be solved through what you have to say.
Staying up to date on relevant sales tips can be a wonderful thing. There’s nothing wrong with testing new ways to stay productive and successful. But never underestimate the value of going back to basics. Maintain a solid foundation and continue to practice asking great sales questions.