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My Medical Device Sales Career

The Two Most Powerful Questions in Selling

Even when you consider the infinite number of possible questions, in sales, there are two that are truly the most powerful. These two questions can form the core of a probing strategy that yields the key information you need to gather on every call.

They are also the two questions every customer is silently asking themselves as you present your product. You must provide compelling answers to these two questions for each of your customers in order to earn their business.

What are they, you ask? The two most important questions are “what” and “why.”

As part of your probing strategy, you must seek to understand the “what’s.” For instance, what problems are being experienced by your customer? What are they currently doing about it? What would they like to improve if they could? What is their timeframe for finding a solution – or a better solution that what they have now? What are their buying criteria and what is the priority, or weight, of each? What specific advantages or benefits are going to cause them to adopt ($$$ buy $$$) your product? What would hinder your sale?

You see, the list of “what’s” is extensive. You may already be pretty skilled at asking these types of questions. If not, you soon will be if you take a few minutes to plan out a few before your next call.

The important follow up question that easily gets overlooked, however, is “why.” If you don’t know “why” then you’re not getting the complete picture and the information you’re missing could negatively impact your sale.

Am I saying that every time we ask them a “what” question we’re going to follow up by asking “why, why, why???” Not exactly. The danger in asking “why” is that it can quickly become annoying if all we do is repeat “why is that?” We don’t want our customers throwing rocks at us! The secret is to find alternates such as “what led you to that decision?” or “help me understand more about that…” or “how is that important to you?” You may also ask them to elaborate, etc. The point is, there are a number of ways to ask “why” without turning your customer off. In fact, they’ll appreciate that you are interested enough to truly understand their position.

Another use of “what” and “why” is in pre-call planning. You should prepare to deliver your presentation in such a way that you are able to clearly explain “what” you’re seeking from your customer and “why.” In other words, you’re going to ask them to do something that will progress the sales cycle. This may be a product trial or it may be setting a meeting. It is important that you communicate to them the reason behind your request. “The product trial will allow you to see firsthand the benefits we’ve discussed.” “By scheduling this meeting now, we can ensure the key people are available and we won’t encounter delays.”

“What” and “why” might also be the final set of questions as you close and summarize the benefits your customer needs. You’re now calling them to the final step of completing the decision process and buying your product.

In summary, if you’re always thinking in terms of “what” and “why” then you are going to stay on track with a good probing strategy. You are also going to gain a more complete understanding of the information, considerations and concerns your customer is working with. You will also know how to best position and present your product so that you highlight the benefits your customer needs most. Lastly, you’ll create more sales because you now know the two most powerful questions in selling.

Now, go forth and sell using the two most powerful questions!

By Kevin Onarecker

Views: 106

Tags: selling skills

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Comment by Anita Onarecker on April 14, 2010 at 10:43am
good article; helps me in the contacts I make.
Comment by Linda Hertz on April 13, 2010 at 6:39pm
Kevin, when I was early in my career and managing sales people for the first time I was surprised the number of my newer reps. who were afraid to ask what and why. I would ask them the why question, "why are they not asking they customer what they were using let alone the why?". Almost without hesitation, the new rep. would give me a quick reply that they were afraid they would not have the answer then and there and they couldn't answer the question....so they would just start giving the feature/benefits of the product (something they knew) to feel more comfortable! I would often ask if they saw that glazed look in the doctors or nurses face after the first 2 minutes of that approach. So the "why" is so important, and for the sales rep. to realize that even the most studied rep. may not have all the answers (especially in the beginning), but keep asking it...one get's better with the why's and closing the sales call. Thanks for another great article.

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