Questions are at the heart of selling. However, there are still some salespeople who push against it, who think that a successful presentation is a matter of putting their case logically. Their presentations are flawless, their logic superb, their evidence overwhelming. If they were barristers they would be at the top of their profession. But what they don’t realise is that they’re not selling – they’re telling.

If we tell people why they should buy, if we give them all the logic, all the reasons why they should go ahead, and we do it with enthusiasm, we will make some sales, but those people would probably buy anyway. Whether we like the description or not, we are in the role of order taker.

Don’t fall into the trap of spending too much time telling customers about your products/services and not enough time asking them about their requirements. While revelling in the plusses of your offering may be fun, collecting information is likely to be more worthwhile.

The most useful credo in sales

‘Forget the tell and develop the ask.’ Rather than tell your customer the relevant benefits of what you offer, change such statements into questions.

The most persuasive way of transferring your ideas is through questions. It’s been said many times and I’ll repeat it here: it’s much easier to teach an introvert to ask questions than to teach an extrovert to shut up.

Get the feel of asking questions. Can you recall when you learned to ride a bicycle? It felt awkward attempting to balance and steer in the right direction, didn’t it? But after a while, after repeatedly falling off, you eventually mastered it. Now you can ride without thinking, it comes easily.

This is how we learn. Initially it feels awkward and strange. Gradually this gives way to being able to do it naturally and comfortably.

A recurring theme of our training courses is the concept of transferring ideas through questions, not reasons. It may feel awkward initially, but keep at it and you’ll find that asking questions becomes as easy as riding your bicycle. Resist the temptation to tell people what you can do for them. Instead, ask them what difference it would make. The best way to persuade is with your ears!

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