Tuesday, June 24, 2008

C.O.W. Questioning Strategy

"There's no such thing as a stupid question."

How many times did your parents and teachers tell you that growing up?

I absolutely believe in the importance of questions - especially when you don't understand something - but there's a time and a place for everything. Peppering a busy CEO with questions while they're rushing out the door for a meeting? Not a good idea. Asking questions during a presentation to feel out what the CEO wants from your solution? Good idea.

"Insightful, well-researched, finely tuned questions can establish your credibility and earn the customer's trust," agrees sales trainer Daniel Adams. "The goal is to listen to the customer instead of launching into reasons why the customer should buy. Great questioning - which provides key information needed to qualify, set strategy, and gain credibility - requires research, preparation and great listening skills."

"Questions can also kill - if they're the wrong ones or at the wrong time," says Adams. "Asking too many questions, or asking questions that reveal you have not researched the company can decrease your credibility. Only ask questions that demonstrate you have done your homework and you know something about the customer's business."

For these reasons, Adams has put together the C.O.W. questioning strategy to help you remember the best way to use questions to further the sale:

C - questions about their current situation (e.g., "What do you like about your current situation? What do you dislike?)

O - questions about their optimal situation (e.g., "In a perfect world, if you could design your own solution for your needs and challenges with unlimited funds, what would that situation look like?")

W - questions about the win that the proposed solution would provide for the corporation (e.g., "How does your company or department win if the optimal state is realized?") or for the individual customer (e.g., "Assuming that these needs and challenges are solved, how would things change for you personally?")

"These personal impact questions are the most powerful;" says Adams, "they provide valuable insights about the customer that can be continually referenced and leveraged throughout the sales process."

"Simply by showing that you have done your homework and by asking powerful and insightful questions, you will begin to understand your customer's world and gain her confidence. You are well on your way to establishing the one crucial element - TRUST!"

Daniel Adams, author of Building Trust, Growing Sales, and creator of Trust Triangle Selling, helps corporations improve their profits by optimizing the performance of their sales teams. He is a frequent and popular speaker at national sales meetings, workshops and association events. To learn more, visit Daniel's website at www.trusttriangleselling.com

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great stuff! Incredibly impactful too. This is one of the few things I actually have been doing to increase the quality of my business relationships. I’ve got a long way to go but already I’m amazed at the shocked looks I get when I show that I’m informed and interested in this person’s line of business and current problems. Google definitely helps here :-)

July 28, 2008 12:13 PM  

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