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Questioning, Listening to Close the Sale

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Are you and your sales team listening…really listening? By questioning and listening to close sales means that you take the prospect seriously and that we are taken seriously. Do you believe your prospects and customers want to be listened to? Do you believe that your prospects and customers want to be taken seriously? Ideas, thoughts, feelings, and even how we purchase become known through questioning and listening. Ultimately what we have to say and what our prospects and customers have to say really matters. Questioning and listening are key to closing sales!

We learn about our culture, primarily through listening. We learn to think by listening, we learn to care by listening, we learn to love by listening, we learn about ourselves by listening, and we learn about our customers through listening. Most people will not care about your point of view or what you have to say until you’ve heard and appreciate their point of view. Therefore, the first stage in a sales relationship should include active listening. So, why do we as contractors spend so much time talking about our company, ourselves, our technical expertise, and offerings? Questioning and listening should dominate the conversations from the first structured meeting though surveying or performing a building assessment, through the confirmation stage and especially when we close the sale.

Let’s talk about questioning, listening, and qualifying in the context of customer relationships. We begin by understanding that we should be listening twice as much as we speak in the early stages of selling. We ask questions about the person’s business facility and about concerns they have related to heating and cooling. We should be asking questions about the financial impact HVACR problems have on their business. We respect their opinion and how they make a purchasing decision by asking questions related to how things might move forward.

Early questioning and listening with a client or potential customer should be focused on the concerns they have, how they work and utilize their building, what issues exist related to the environmental systems, why these are concerns, how this happens? We earn the right to ask questions about how decisions are made, how much can they afford to pay, and when they would purchase by asking the ‘broad’, ‘open-ended’ questions related to how they operate their business and operate and maintain their HVACR.

How can we help and serve our customers or make them look good or feel more comfortable? This is the area where active, complete listening becomes very critical. Early in the relationship, the fact that we are truly interested in serving them, means that we ask great questions in order to listen more thoroughly to why, how, and when the prospect will buy. A solid relationship is founded in communications, combined with commitments made and then fulfilled. What communications? What commitments? How are we going to help or serve our customers? Here, we find the critical nature of good questioning and active listening.

Let’s start all of our customer relationships by being good listeners, by asking great questions, and by helping prioritize the needs, hurts, and objectives of the prospect. Let’s complete the sales process by being great listeners while we confirm pain, reinforce benefits, and illustrate financial justification. Good questioning and listening requires the following:

• Have meeting goals; prepare your questions in advance
• Use open-ended questions, always probe further in a specific area
• Don’t double your questions, ask one at a time
• Take notes to log information and ‘park’ your thoughts or further questions
• Ask questions about their work or home, issues and concerns related to the environmental systems or HVACR, impact systems have on their budget
• Earn the right to ask questions about how they buy, what they can afford, how they would pay, and when they would purchase
• Show empathy, lean forward toward the prospect, don’t interrupt
• Listen for needs, hurts, and objectives in order to educate or discuss specific options
• Only relay information that incorporates how you will serve them
• Use “Explain that to me”, “Tell me more about that”, “Describe how that happened”.

Listening combined with great questions means that we should listen twice as much as we speak. Focus on your objective in the early stages of the sales process; gaining knowledge about their needs, hurts, and objectives in order to better serve our customers. If the close is the logical conclusion to a great sales process then questioning and listening are the keys to navigating the sales process!

Do you want to build long-term, strong, high margin relationships with your customers? Do you desire the “auto close” for your negotiated maintenance agreements and commercial service projects? Start by beginning every sales process or sales appointment meeting with well-planned questions and learn to become a great listener by probing well. Start today by preparing the questions you will ask in your next sales visit. Questioning and listening skills can change your customer relationships, internal business communications and family relationships.

James Graening

Posted In: ACCA Now, Sales & Marketing

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