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Sales Consulting and Training:

Using Value Vs. Risk Questions

Once a sales professional has gone through the process of asking “what if” questions to determine a customer’s priorities and openness to solutions, she can move towards conducting a value versus risk analysis. Now, remember, just as in the last stage, these questions need to be provided in a generic manner.  You should still refrain from mentioning a particular product or service or even your own company. 

To go through this process, you need to have a good grasp of the strengths and weaknesses of both your company and your competitors. What you want to do is tailor your questions to play to your strengths and not your competitors’. Based on the questioning skills you have already used, you will also have a solid understanding of your customer’s needs and attitudes. Of course, you need to know your products and services well. This is all important information as you guide the customer via open-ended and closed-ended questions to extract additional information. 

So, we can pick up where we left off…

Sales Rep: “If there was a way to customize the order based on your specifications and not on pre-determined options, would that be important?”

Customer: “Oh yeah, I’d definitely say so. We’ve had the toughest time finding someone who can meet our specs. We don’t want something off the shelf – we have specific needs.

Sales Rep: “What if you weren’t able to order based on those specs?”

Customer: “We’d be at a standstill. We’d either have to come up with the manufacturing capability ourselves… that will take us a good six months… or change our final product. Neither is an attractive option.”

As you’ll notice, the second question brings out the possible risk of choosing another option. The customer is able to provide key information of use to the sales rep.

Here are some other sample questions that demonstrate the use of the value vs. risk analysis in use:

“If there was a way to utilize the existing warehouse with the new sorting capabilities, would that help distribution?”

“What if you could find a vendor who could not only provide the technology but also ensure that your team would be ready to use it. Would that make the transition easier?”

“If it wasn’t possible to have the product on the loading dock by the deadline, how would that affect your sales?”

The information you gather in this stage can then be confirmed with confirming questions.  They are used to clarify interest and commitment to a specific course of action or a potential recommended solution.

“Would it be fair to say that finding a company that could provide that capability would make your job easier?”

“So, if it turned out that the inventory could be paired up with a willing buyer, would that service be of benefit to you?”

“What you’re telling me is that the capability to have your support staff trained on the application before the new year would be of importance?”

Practice using these questioning techniques to accurately determine your customer’s concerns and true motivations in order to make the appropriate recommendation.

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