7 Necessary Sales Skills: Effective Questioning

While effective questioning can be called a basic sales skill, it is also one of the cornerstone sales skills.  If you can’t effectively ask your customer the right questions, you’ll never even get to the point where you’ll want to ask the most important question of all, asking for the sale.

Unlike selling in the real world, there are a few things that have to be assumed in your questioning of your customer.  You have to assume that you have permission to ask them questions.  Unfortunately, you’ll never know if you don’t because they’ll just leave and go somewhere else.  You also have to assume that you may not get an answer.  Not all of your customers will reply to your questioning.  You can’t read their body language so you have no way to see if they are responding in other ways.  You’ve got to just continue on as if you got a neutral answer.

Effective questioning can take many forms in a digital world.  Sometimes you have to make inferences from metrics to assume the answer to a question.  Want to know if your new design is conducive to sales?  Watch your stats when you make the change.  Many effective questioners will use A/B testing to effectively listen to the answers they’re getting from their customers.  Sometimes you do get a direct answer in the form of a comment or email.  While you may be shooting for the masses, those that do comment or email are a very strong indicator of what the rest of the masses feel.  You should take a comment or email as an excellent opportunity to listen to your customers and to directly ask them questions.  Use it to learn more about your customers needs, wants, and objections.  Then use those needs, wants, and objections to position yourself in a way to make the sale to that customer.

You can’t please them all all the time.  But becoming an effective questioner will help you get close to pleasing most of them all the time.

7 Necessary Sales Skills: Effective Listening

I can hear you all now telling me that I’m crazy. What does listening have to do with what is predominantly a textual medium? A lot more than you may think.

Despite the textual nature of what we do here on the ‘net, we still have a lot of listening to do. Each and every one of our readers has something to say. In the case of a blog, they say it through your contact forms and your comment forms. If you’re reading each and every comment but not responding to any of them, you aren’t listening effectively.

Listening effectively to your readers entails much more than typing away at your keyboard writing posts. You’ve got to hold a conversation with them. Without that conversation (your part is about 80% listening) you won’t get very far in your sale. Nobody likes talking to a wall.

Respond to your readers comments. Participate in the conversation that ensues. Show that you’re “listening” to what they have to say. While you don’t have to write hundreds of words in response, a simple one word response might not do it. Having effective listening skills comes in very important when you need to listen carefully to your customers to discern what it is that they want.

What is the best way you’ve found to really listen to your readers?

7 Necessary Sales Skills: Rapport

From Dictionary.com:

Relationship, especially one of mutual trust or emotional affinity.

Put simply, the customer must like you. In the real world, you can build Rapport in some really simple ways.  Smiling, eye contact, making the effort to learn their name, and even something as simple as initiating a handshake can all build rapport with your customer.

But I can’t do any of those things!  Here’s what you’ve got to do to build rapport with your customer.  You have to earn their trust.  You can do this by showing that you’re not out for a quick buck, but truly do want to help them.  You can do this by having nothing to hide.  No hiding affiliate links.  Don’t be a news spout.  Make each article personal.  If I want the news, I go to CNN.  If I want to participate in a conversation, I go to your site.

The key word in building a rapport with your customer is Trust.  If they can’t trust you, they aren’t going to buy from you.  They aren’t going to click on your ad banners.  They aren’t going to come back.  And you aren’t going to make much money.

If you do build a rapport with your customer (reader), you’ll gain their trust.  And the next time you give an honest review of a product that you’re excited about, they’ll buy it from you.  And you will make money.

How do you build a rapport with your customer? Join our conversation and share how.

Plans for March

If you haven’t noticed, I’m upping my game this month.  I’m doing some contests to try and bring in more readers, while giving back to those that are here.  I’m also trying something that I don’t think has ever been done on this site before.  I’m going to attempt to post something every day for the entire month.  31 straight posts.

To pull this all off, I’m going to try and operate on themes.  The theme that I’ve set up for this coming week is the 7 Necessary Sales Skills.  Here’s a list of the ones that I’ll be covering over the next few days:

  • Build Rapport
  • Effective Listening
  • Effective Questioning
  • Supporting Needs
  • Closing and Follow-Up
  • Overcome Objections
  • Wrap-Up

I’m hoping to have most of these written in advance (in fact, I’ve already got the first three done before I finished this post) so that I can concentrate the rest of the week on getting more posts ready for the following week.  I’m still working on the theme for the rest of the month.  Got anything that you might like to see here as a theme?  If I can cover it, I’ll try and squeeze it in.  And who knows, I might decide to extend this all into April as well!

I hope you’ll come along for the month.  Use those fancy little icons up to the right of here and subscribe to the feed.  It’ll get you some extra points into the contest if you go and comment on the contest thread telling me that you’ve subscribed.  And I’ll give you a hint; being a subscriber will probably get you points in all four weekly contests.  And probably a monthly one if I do a contest for the whole month.