Consulting Sales:
Sales Training Seminars

Time and Territory Management Skills
Presentations Skills for Sales Pros
Telephone Sales Training
The Salesman as Negotiator
The Trusted Sales Advisor
Home Contact Bookmark Us

Sales Consulting and Training:

Questioning for Problem Clarification

Sometimes, a client doesn’t have a clear picture of a problem they have without conducting some additional analysis.  The same applies to sales reps.  Without unlocking the valuable information contained in a client’s head, it is impossible to make an appropriate recommendation that will truly solve a customer need.

In order to successfully uncover a customer’s product or service problem, a sales professional needs to use an effective questioning strategy. This strategy will enable you to discover client concerns, dissatisfactions and problem areas. In those cases when a customer doesn’t care about a situation or simply hasn’t put two and two together, questioning can cause the light bulb to go on in the client’s mind. 

Problem clarification will help you in three ways:

1.       Customers who are aware of their issues will be more likely to accept and sign off on solutions that address those issues.

2.       You will gain a greater understanding of what the customer wants and values in a working relationship with a vendor.

3.       This process will help you identify risks, as perceived by your client. By knowing these risks and sources of pain, you can position your products and services more effectively. 

After you have set the direction of the call and begun the questioning process, the next logical approach to take is to find your client’s real problems and you can solve them. Ultimately, what does your client need and why do they need it?

There are three types of questions that will enable you to gather pertinent information.

1.       Diagnostic Questions will uncover the customer’s pain points and how they are caused.  They will enable you to get to the “what” and the “why”.

2.       Implication Questions help determine the effect of a customer’s pain.  What implication does this problem have on a client’s customer base?  How does this problem       affect their ability to compete?  These questions can either focus on possible risk or possible benefit.  Each serves a different purpose and can bring to light the danger       of not acting on the problem as well as the benefit of acting on the problem (via your solution, of course).

3.       Confirming Questions allow you to confirm and verify the pain, the requirements a client might have and the willingness to take action.

Here are some sample questions from all three questioning types:

Diagnostic Questions: Finding out the “what” and “why” of your client’s pain

  • What problems have you had with your existing carrier?
  • How much time have you allocated for the deployment of the servers?
  • What reporting processes have you implemented to document these failures in the system?
  • How does your support staff handle the problem today?
  • What difficulties have you faced with your existing supplier?
  • Does the problem lie with the quality of product that is shipped out?
  • What are your expectations in regards to raw materials needed for production?

Implication Questions: Helping them see the risk and reward of action or inaction

  • What happens if your customer calls aren’t returned in a timely manner?
  • How would you benefit if your supply delivered from a warehouse closer to the manufacturing plant?
  • Who ultimately bears the responsibility for a network outage?
  • What type of reaction will the board have if the plant faces the same problem?
  • How will the public react if the project is finished ahead of time?
  • How could the savings be reallocated to help your team with productivity?
  • What would be the effect on personnel who receive the new system?
  • How would the savings in this area help you with your quarterly numbers?

Confirming Questions: Synching up your client’s pain with your solution

  • How can a new system help resolve that problem?
  • So, if I understand you correctly, shifting the burden to an automated process would increase factory output?
  • What will it take to eliminate the problem?
  • How do you anticipate solving the concern?

Then, a company-wide plan would resolve the skill gap and improve your team’s performance?

The more information you can gather, the better chance you have of proposing the right solution.  Again, without complete date, you run the risk of shooting at a target you can’t even see.

Copyright © 1979, 1982, 1991, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004-2014
Consulting Sales Institute of America
All rights are reserved.
Home Contact Bookmark Us