If most managers have the best of intentions when supporting their salespeople, then why do they keep asking them questions that result in lost sales? Managers tend to believe that in order to achieve sales goals and attain quota, they need to keep focusing on the results. Think about the questions you ask during a conversation. Do your questions focus on how your people do things or focus more on what’s been done or getting done?

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today we first share questions that emphasize one thing—outcomes—then we will share questions about changing the outcome.

Here’s an example of the type of questions that are continually being asked by managers who have a results-driven mindset. These questions focus on one thing and one thing only: the outcome.

What are you working on that’s currently in your pipeline?

How many meetings did you schedule this week?

You’re putting everything we need into the CRM, right?

Is your sales forecast accurate?

Did you get in touch with the decision makers, as well as influencers in the company?

How many calls did you make today?

You qualified the prospect to ensure there’s a fit, this is a priority for them and they had budget, right?

If we’re going to put a pilot in place, did you confirm that we are their vender of choice?

Did you demonstrate a solid value proposition that’s aligned with the customer’s needs?

Are these questions important? They most certainly are! However, these questions enable managers to facilitate only half of the conversation you need to have with your salespeople. While these questions certainly focus on results, they are also, for the most part, all closed-ended questions providing no additional insight into the situations, facts, behavior or what was discussed.

Change Your Questions—Change The Outcome

Here are some examples of open-ended questions that are truly open ended, allowing for conversation with the salesperson on what can still be changed.

How have you handled that situation before?

What have you tried so far? How did you do that?

What is your expectation of exceptional customer service?

How does the customer define value and ROI?

How did you respond when the customer pushed back on pricing?

What steps can you take to resolve that?

Walk me through the last conversation you had with that customer.

What questions did you ask to qualify this opportunity?

What are the titles and names of all the people involved in this decision?

What did they tell you their decision-making criteria was?

What are the top concerns the prospect shared with you that could get in the way of earning their business?

How did you confirm that your value proposition was perfectly aligned with their objectives and needs?

While these questions challenge people to assess and improve how they do things, they do so in a positive way, rather than in a confrontational way. These questions demonstrate that you actually have an interest in them. It shows that you’re not only focused on the results but on them, as well.

When you become someone who is more process-driven, notice what happens to the quality of the questions you ask. Now, you have the power to positively impact the outcome of every conversation.

Source: Keith Rosen is the CEO of Profit Builders and award-winning author of Coaching Salespeople Into Sales Champions, one of the top books on coaching.