Busting Your Assumptions: Effective Probing Techniques for Sales Professionals

Do you find yourself making these kinds of assumptions?

- "I lost the sale because my price was too high."

- "I know exactly what my customer wants."

- "I can't hold a member of my team accountable for the delays in our project because she won't like me if I do."

- "I don't delegate often enough because I know I can do the work better myself. "

These assumptions may be correct. However, they also might only be partially right or they might be absolute bunk.

The problem with assumptions is that we are certain they are true. We unquestioningly believe, for example, that if we ask a customer about their needs, we look stupid (shouldn't I instinctively know their needs?).

Also, making assumptions can easily lead to a negative outcome in our dealings with customers. For instance, I go nuts when a salesperson starts solving my problems when they haven't asked me about my situation. I know I am not alone here.

Listen to yourself this week as a mini-test. If you are doing more talking than asking, you're probably making a lot of assumptions. If your opinion is front and center and you are not curious about what someone else is thinking, then you have definitely crossed the border into assumption-land.

One way to stop making assumptions is to ask a lot more questions.

Here are five powerful questions that can help you check out whether an assumption is true, and, in the process, connect more effectively with your customers.

1. "Tell me more."

2. "What do you need?"

3. "What about this is important to you?"

4. "How will this make a difference in your work?

Then confirm your understanding by asking:

5. "So, if I understand you correctly, what you're saying is ? Right?"

Notice that you cannot get a one-word answer to the above questions. The art of selling is to have customers explain, at length, what their situation is, and what they want to do about it. It is not about you blabbering on about your products and services.

To develop the asking-questions muscle, start your questions with the following key words: What, why, tell me, describe, explain.

To build muscle, you'll need to practice everywhere. Look for at least one opportunity a day to engage someone in conversation. You can pick anyone: family, friends, customers, colleagues, peers, superiors, strangers, cabbies, waiters, or the guy next to you on the bus. Try to pick a topic that the individual can address for at least five to ten minutes, and try to keep your opinion to yourself, even if you have strong views.

Just ask more questions, and see where the conversation takes you.

Have fun with it! You will be taking steps toward opening up your mind, recognizing the assumptions you make, and, most importantly, working with customers in a way that they value.

---

This article may be reprinted in its entirety with express written permission from Nicki Weiss. The reprint must include the section "About the Author".

About the Author

Nicki Weiss is an internationally recognized Certified Professional Sales Management Coach, Master Trainer, and workshop leader. Since 1992, Nicki has trained, certified, and/or coached more than 6,000 business executives, sales managers and salespeople.

Nicki guarantees increased sales performance when sales managers become better sales coaches. Sign up for her FREE monthly e-zine, Something for NothingTM, which has powerful tips and techniques for sales managers who are ready to make this transformation. Sign up at http://www.saleswise.ca You can email her at nicki@saleswise.ca or call 416-778-4145.

A Great Sales Technique: Be Aware of Sales Myth #5

A myth can best be described as somebody or something whose existence is or was... Read More

Sales 101

For many individuals in business the hardest part is selling. For the majority of business... Read More

How to Boost Your Sales Letter Conversion Rate

Emotion and reason mix very well together to make excellent sales techniques. Expert copywriters, while... Read More

Why Salespeople Dont Take Risks

Proponents of traditional sales training simply teach the material, sometimes in a very entertaining format,... Read More

What You Can Learn From The Movie Business

Maybe everything you need to know you can learn from the movies. A friend of... Read More

The Five Most Common Mistakes Salespeople Make

Over the decades that I've been involved in sales, I've worked with tens of thousands... Read More

Customers - Always be Focused on Them

I was looking at some promotional literature and web sites the other... Read More

The Ultimate Think Differently Sales Tip

Sales drive revenues, and revenues drive companies. Companies, then, are only as good as their... Read More

The ?Shocking? Sales Strategy of Saying THANKS!

I would like you to begin thinking of mailboxes in a new way. Contrary to... Read More

Are You Deaf? Dumb? Blind at Trade Shows?

I'm constantly amazed how otherwise smart marketeers become deaf, dumb and blind at a show.... Read More

Keep Sales Simple

For those of us working in the exciting world of sales, we are all too... Read More

Pressure Washer Business; Cleaning Composite Decks

There is a new trend in the way wood decks are constructed; composite decks and... Read More

One Simple Persuasion Secret That Will Blow The Roof Off Your Sales

The next time you're shopping for clothes in a department store, take a closer look... Read More

Anticipating the Audiences Reaction

Obviously, you can not know all of the things that will set off an individual... Read More

Leverage Avoidance Values for Irresistible Selling

What are values? Values are filters that everyone uses to help make sense of all... Read More

More Customers! Less Work!

Wouldn't it be nice if there were an inexpensive method for creating more customers? There... Read More

Say What?!? Sales is a Profession?

What exactly is the sales profession? Without a common dialogue and context for the sales... Read More

Transforming Problems into Sales

My silent fish tank was no more. Enough water had evaporated to make the filter... Read More

The Canned Sales Pitch Myth

Canned or scripted sales approaches are rarely successful, because one size does not fit all... Read More

Sales Performance and Motivation: How to Get Your Edge Back

Performance and motivation are like chocolate & peanut butter; the combination is better than either... Read More

Make More Sales By Creating How To Use It Product Updates

Do you have any idea what your customers have experienced from using the products they... Read More

Increasing Your Sales FASTER -- Dealing with Ill Think It Over.

Do you frequently hear that from a prospect?"I'll Think It Over."What does this mean? It... Read More

How Salespeople Can Create Immediate Believability And Credibility

It pays to be specific. I believe that statement is true. If it is true,... Read More

Secrets That Lead To Failure In Sales

Let's be realistic nobody really wants to be labeled a failure when it comes to... Read More

How To Go Perpendicular In Your Sales Territory

First and foremost are you thinking Strategically? "Do you have what it takes to do... Read More

3 Hot Ways To Crank Up Your Sales

1) QUICK FOLLOW-UPSWhen you make your first sale, follow-up with the customer. You could follow-up... Read More

Practice Building: Create a Powerful and Targeted Call to Action for Your Prospects

A "Call To Action" is an invitation for your prospective clients to actively engage you... Read More

Get Tough

You deal with rejections, frustrations, disappointment, and possibly disrespect on a daily basis. You probably... Read More

You Dont Need Health Insurance!

Seems almost every situation in our lives is centered on communication. Good or bad, the... Read More

The Road to Achieving Training Success: What Holds the Key?

As a trainer, you will be able to see a single change in a single... Read More

Effective Account Management

Congratulations! You successfully sold one or more of your company's products or services to a... Read More

How To Write A Killer Sales Letter

I sit down and look at my notebook. Then, I put myself into the 'zone'.That's... Read More

Small Business Computer Consulting Freeloaders? and How to Avoid Them

If you've been in the small business computer consulting industry for more than 10 minutes,... Read More

Increase Profits from Your Existing Customers

An area many businesses fail to recognise as a way to increase profits is by... Read More

Close More Sales With This Very Simple 3 Step Sales Process.

As Financial Services Sales Professional you need to build trust and rapport in order to... Read More

Sales and the Law of Attraction

I'm about to challenge your belief system, or at least I'm going to try.I'm going... Read More

Busting Your Assumptions: Effective Probing Techniques for Sales Professionals

Do you find yourself making these kinds of assumptions?- "I lost the sale because my... Read More

Visual Science of Selling

Statistics state that 55% of people judgments are made based on what is seen visually,... Read More

Are You Missing Out On Sales Through Fear of Pain? Improve the Persuasive Power of Your Words!

Education plus Motivation is a powerful formula. But how do you ensure the motivation level... Read More

Cross-selling for Increased Sales, Profits, and Customer Satisfaction

Cross-selling - the art of selling for non-salespeopleCross-selling is the act of selling related products... Read More

Make Your Referrals Count

Just because we receive a referral, it doesn't mean that the sale is ours and... Read More

How To Win Business By Networking

In sales we do tend to become focused upon our own little worlds. Our company,... Read More

Shout At Your Customers - Theyre Hard of Hearing!

Some people say we live in the Information Age.I call it the Distraction Age.My new... Read More

How Can A Smelly, Hissing Goose Teach You To Be A Business Leader?

In the 1990's we lived on a farm in Iowa. Since I grew up in... Read More

The ?Finding Common Ground? Sales Technique, Is A Myth!

Almost every book, manual, workshop or tape series teaching selling skills, will at one point... Read More

Selling Yourself - Its Not About You

I recently found myself suffering from a lousy cold; all the coughing, snuffling and sneezing... Read More

Equal Chance of Winning The Sale? Bah!

Are you going to win this deal? With just less than 3 weeks left in... Read More

Increase Your Sales With an Incredible Offer

What are you selling?Coaching? Consulting? Professional services? A product? Information?To start with, you need to... Read More

8 Must Questions to Ask in Every Sales Situation

Solving people's and organization's problems is ultimately what business is all about. Effective selling involves... Read More

When The Clock Strikes Twelve!

I just finished reading another sales copy ending with the Deadline Marketing!And it's the sixth... Read More