It can sometimes seem daunting to train salespeople to ask the right sales prospecting questions. This is understandable because there are so many different directions that a conversation can go. But it does not need to be so difficult and we will provide some structure here that you can apply to your sales training processes.
One thing that makes training salespeople to ask the right questions difficult is that asking questions is like a frog jumping on a series of lily pads. When one question is asked, that leads to a prospect response and from that response, there is a whole new set of follow-up questions or actions.
To truly teach the right questions to ask, you will need to teach all of the different branches that lines of questioning can go. Mapping all of this out can be a bit difficult from a sales training perspective.
Learning Through Trial-and-Error
The unfortunate thing that goes on in most sales organizations is that, if you don’t train salespeople on all of the different questions to ask, they will end up primarily learning through trial-and-error. This will involve the salesperson going through the same situations again and again and after a while, they will start to figure out what to ask, usually after not asking the right questions a couple of times.
The challenge with this sales training process is that this is the most costly way to train salespeople. A lot of mistakes are usually made through this process and there is usually a very long ramp-up time. And when you add up all of the deals and customers lost during this period of learning through trial-and-error, it is extremely costly and expensive in terms of lost revenue.
4 Steps to Teach Salespeople to Ask the Right Questions
Here is a very simple 4-step process that you can use to train salespeople to ask the right questions.
1. Pre-Qualifying Questions
The first step that you can take to make a huge stride forward is to simply outline the pre-qualifying questions for the products that they sell. These are questions that determine if there is enough of a fit for both parties to even meet or keep talking.
Here are some examples:
How concerned are you about the amount of time it takes to train and ramp up new salespeople?
How important is it for you to decrease your sales staff turnover?
What kind of sales training methodologies have you used in the past?
2. Hard Qualifying Questions
Next, you want to train salespeople to ask hard qualifying questions. These are questions that determine how real the deal is. Here are some examples.
What is the budget range that the project needs to fit in?
What is the decision making process?
What other options are you considering?
3. Closing Questions
For step 3, you will want to train salespeople to ask the right closing questions. These are questions to ask to close the prospect and here are some examples:
What do you think of what we have discussed so far?
What would you like to do next?
What would you need to be able to make a commitment to move forward?
4. Build Question Trees
Step 4 is where you really take your team to the next level and this is where you build out question trees. These are a breakdown of questions with all of the branches of follow-up questions. For example, if you ask a question the prospect will have some sort of response. For each prospect response, there is a follow-up question or action and this is what will make up the branches of the question tree.
Building that out might sound a bit difficult or tedious, but it is not that bad. What you can do is think about the anticipated prospect responses for the first line of questions. Then for each response, develop the follow-up question or action. You can then repeat this process for as deep as you want to go, but two or three levels should be very sufficient to help train salespeople.