Everyone can sell, but not everyone should. Most customers have sold themselves on the purchase long before speaking to a salesperson. Others are convinced due to the salesperson. Some decide not to buy because of the salesperson. So much of the sale comes down to asking the right sales questions. Whether you have a team of salespeople who prefer to wing it or a group that wants to study to be the best, there are four different types of sales questions all should know.
Here are the 4 basic categories of questions, along with when and when not to use them.
First, your team needs to clearly understand the difference between Closed Ended Questions and Open Ended Sales Questions.
Closed-ended questions are those asked in a way in which there is a specific set of outcomes to the potential answer because you control the choices. Most “Yes” or “No” sales questions are closed-ended. These are best used when your team wants to control the flow of the conversation. For instance, closed-ended questions work well on inbound phone calls when there has yet to be an objection by the customers and the salesperson is looking to solidify a customer’s consideration set.
Examples of Common Closed-Ended Questions:
Have you had the opportunity to test drive this vehicle?
Were you looking for a long or short bed on your next truck?
What works best for you, the morning, afternoon, or evening?
Is gas mileage important to you?
Today or tomorrow?
Is 3:30 pm good, or would 5 pm be better?
Do you need leather seats?
Open-ended questions are posed in a way that invites the responder to answer in more detail, generally based on their own experiences or desires, where the salesperson can understand a shopper’s intent more intuitively. Open-ended questions are best used as sales probing questions after a customer has objected (as continuing the sale as a conversation is better than a challenge) or used to simply build rapport with the shopper. They’re meant to be exploratory in nature.
Examples of Common Open-Ended Questions
What features do you have to have?
What made you consider this model your favorite?
How do you typically use your vehicle?
What type of research have you done in advance of coming in?
What do you hope to accomplish today?
Once your staff understands how to deploy these two basic categories of sales questions above, they must go one step further and leverage them to influence the customer’s response to be positive or negative. Open-ended and closed-ended sales questions can be used in many ways, but the structure of the question may influence a less-than-ideal outcome. That is where permissive questions and assumptive questions can help them take control or give it away.
Assumptive questions (or assumptive language) begin with a statement of what you will do for the other person or what will happen and follows with a question where the only outcome is that of a response in favor of the salesperson asking. It doesn’t ask them for permission but obligates you to a promised action, thereby obligating them to receive the favor.
Examples of Assumptive Questions
I am going to send you some pics, so is it best to send those to you by email or text?
I’m sure you want to test drive the vehicle, so let me ask, what time is best for you, right now or later today?
I’ll call you back with that answer. What is the best number to reach you at?
I’m going to have the vehicle gassed, washed, and parked right up front to save you time when you arrive, how does that sound?
I’m going to film a quick video, is there anything you want me to focus on in the video?
As I said before, the person asking the questions generally controls the conversation, we can relinquish that control by using permissive questions. When do you use these, ideally never. Rather, not unless you run into a customer who is so very hesitant and scared that any other language or sales questions that control the outcome might send them headed for the hills out of fear.
For the most part, though, using permissive sales questions, where we ask their permission to do something or for something to happen, gives them the control to end the entire conversation.
Examples of Permissive Questions
Can I send you some info?
When do you want to come in?
Can I call you back?
Is it okay if I send you a video?
Can you give me your phone number?
Would you like to set up a test drive?
As you can see, permissive sales questions allow the customer to kill the conversation with a simple “no,” whereas assumptive questions give us the opportunity to offer something to them and lead them to the desired outcome. Open-ended and Closed-ended sales questions all have a place and time as part of any well-constructed sales presentation, regardless if the communication is occurring by email, on the phone, via text, or face-to-face.
How you position yourself to the customer and how far down the path to purchase you get is strongly impacted by the style of sales questions the salesperson uses. Ensure your team practices these different methods and understands where they fit into sales discussions, and everyone will end up with the desired outcome… a sale.
Here are 5 steps to make this sales training stick when practicing the above with your team.