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The More Access Clients have to Data the Less They will Tolerate Your Content

Let your product speaks for itself through the quality of your questions. Sales people are practicing without a license and risk malpractice when they do not do their due diligence; diagnosing, prognosis, prescription and treatment. All these skill sets cannot exist without thorough questioning and probing.

Sales people need to scale back their information and operate under a new tenet of nonproliferation. They need to use questions to stimulate constructive and meaningful conversations about customer's problems and consequences.

Too many sales people are firm followers of "do not ask, do tell." They believe "ask and you shall receive" is too good to be true because of the high likelihood that they will hate what they hear. Thought-provoking questions are for those sales people who want a firm grip on reality.

You measure a customer's fit based not on your ability to help them, but on their motivations and ability to buy and change. If you do not buy this premise, questions will not be the hallmark of your sales strategy. Your job is to upload information not download it. The name of the game is customer output, not sales person output.

"Traditional sales techniques encourage sales people to believe that getting maximum information from customers jeopardizes rather than helps their sales efforts," says Josh Costell. So be a net importer of information not a net exporter to really differentiate yourself from your competition.

The information economy gives customers unprecedented access to information. "The more we have immediate access to information we actually want, the less we will tolerate having content imposed upon us," says Eric Felton. Sales people need to be reductive in the digital world. Since customers are swimming in content their job is now to provide context and perspective.

Conventional sales people operate as if perception takes on the status of fact when they qualify and question customers. They loosely probe and take too much at face value. Selling is an art dealing in probability. Yet sales people treat their customers as if they are dealing in absolutes. They do not establish any foundation for change and simply play the role of product mouthpieces and talking websites. Most high valued customers face complex questions, and they need sales people to expand their range and grasp of their issues by asking them pointed questions.

Until you ask questions so you can listen and learn, you defend yourself against the possibility of understanding your customer. The greatest reward of listening is it allows you the right to ask more questions. The better the question, the better the state of listening. Asking the right questions is a process to encourage independent thinking and self-inquiry, resulting in open discussions to get you away from the authority figure of one who is all-knowing.

Good questions are an added pair of eyes and ears. With broader oversight one can more easily find contrary views and outcomes, and decipher suspicious conflicting interests of customers. It is a process of stripping away and rigorously screening that allows sales people to have a solid foundation of checks and balances so they are not carried away by their emotions. Also, your questions arouse a certain amount of curiosity with your customer, not about your offering, but rather to look at things in their business that are important that might have fallen through the cracks, or gone off their radar screen.

Richard Farrell is President of Tangent Knowledge Systems, a national sales development and training firm based in Chicago. He is the author of the upcoming book Selling has Nothing to do with Selling. He trains and speaks around the world and has authored many articles on his unique non-selling sales posture.

Phone: 773-404-7915
EMail: rfarrell@tangentknowledge.com
Web: http://www.tangentknowledge.com