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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Generic Questions Are Costing You Opportunities: Here's How to Fix It

Improve Sales Skills

Imagine one of your sales reps has an important sales call with one of their biggest sales lead yet. You've coached them, doubled-checked to make sure their equipment works and they know what they need to about the offer.

But they get on the call, and it doesn't go so well. The prospect sounds annoyed and hangs up before your rep can fully explain the product or service.

Don't let this happen to your sales team! Keep reading to learn how you can use questions to improve sales skills and increase sales.

Plan for the Call

New call-to-actionOne of the easiest ways to improve sales skills is to prepare for a sales call. If your rep goes into a call without a plan, it's easy to get sidetracked. They may end up talking about the prospect's day and not the offer.

By the time the call is over, they realize they didn't make any progress toward a sale. Instead, ensure your rep spends a few minutes before the call researching the prospect.

  • Figure out what the prospect does and what problems they may have. That way, your rep can ask more specific questions and seem more interested in helping the person or company.

  • Write down some points you want your rep to cover on the call. If anything sticks out during their research, they can bring it up and ask good sales questions.

Visit LinkedIn

An easy way to prep for a sales call is to use LinkedIn for research. Find out whether the prospect is a decision-maker or a decision influencer and what they might need help with.

Remind your rep NOT to connect with or message them just yet. Simply get an idea of who they will be talking with on the call.

  • Suggest that your rep keep that person's profile up during the call so that they can reference certain points. Then, they can speak directly to that person and their needs.

  • After the call, they can use LinkedIn to follow-up and answer any questions they have. Your rep can also use it to do more research if they need to schedule another call.The Ultimate LinkedIn Profile Checklist for Sales Professionals

Focus on Key Information

Your rep should hone a variety of selling skills, but their skills should include adaptability. Not all of their calls will be with similar people or people with the same problem.

As they research, they should figure out how the product or service they're selling can help that specific prospect.

For example, if they're selling printers, and talking to a marketing manager, they can use the call to ask them about their print marketing efforts. But that wouldn't necessarily work if they were talking to an accountant or a lawyer.

Coach them to focus on how their offer can help the person on the other end of the line. That will help them find the right questions to ask prospects and show that the product or service is for them.

Respect The Prospect

Another part of learning how to improve sales skills is learning when to keep pushing and when to walk away. Of course, you want your rep to get the prospect to close on a deal, or at least schedule a follow-up,  but you don't want them to overdo it.

Some prospects won't be interested, even if reps ask the best sales questions. They need to learn how to gauge someone's tone so that they can figure out when to stop the call.

In some cases, they may be able to switch to a different set of questions and close the sale. Other times, they may need to ask if there's another time to call and discuss the offer.

Then, they can use that extra time to research the prospect more in-dept so that they can better address their needs.

Be Personable

You don't want your rep to talk about unrelated topics during a sales call. But being personable is one of the most important selling skills reps can have.

No one wants to talk to someone that sounds like a robot. During a sales call, encourage your reps to talk about the prospect. While they should keep it relevant to the offer, have them ask what they're struggling with.

For example, if you rep is selling printers, have them ask the prospect what printer they currently use. Ask when they bought it and if they have any issues with it. Your rep needs to figure out how they can sell a new printer to the person behind the phone rather than selling to sell.

The sales process isn't just about making money. Good salespeople know how to provide solutions and solve problems for their prospects and clients.

Check out this proven solution to help improve sales performance

Tell a Story

When your rep lands on a prospect's pain point that they can solve, they must then provide a solution over the phone. This is where your rep should talk about how switching to your product or service will make their life easier.

If you stick with the printer example, perhaps your printer doesn't require as much maintenance. Maybe it works with larger ink cartridges, so the prospect won't need as many refills.

Your rep can turn that into a story about how they can go about their day, printing documents without a care in the world. Tell them how good they can feel knowing they don't need to order yet another ink refill.

Telling a story gives prospects an idea of what buying your product or service will actually do for them. That way, they can see how the cost is worth the benefits.

Experiment With Your Questions

If your rep has an unsuccessful sales call, it's easy for them to fall into a sales slump. Instead of focusing on it as a negative, take it as a learning experience.

It's the perfect chance for you to help them improve sales skills for the next sales call. If one question caught the prospect off guard, for example, maybe don't ask it on the next round.Free Download: The Art of Asking Questions

They can rephrase the question so that it sounds better. Or they can try asking other questions. Experimenting with different sales questions can help them find what works.

Once they have a successful, easy call, they can make note of the good sales questions they used. Then, they can start with those questions to help move future sales calls along.

How Questions Can Improve Sales Skills

Being able to improve sales skills is part of the job for the newest employee and the highest-ranking manager. Selling is one of those jobs that require a lot of flexibility and creativity.

If your rep can ask the right questions and speak to individual people, you'll see more success. Then, your rep can keep learning more selling skills and grow in their career. Increase new business by sharpening your sales reps sales skills!New call-to-action

Topics: sales performance increasing new business