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Asking the Right Questions to Boost Your Business

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

The Importance of Building Trust During the Sales Process

One of the most critical aspects of winning over potential clients is asking the right questions. The NCI sales training process emphasizes the importance of asking good probing questions, along with developing rapport with prospective clients at the outset of the initial meeting. Rapport leads to trust and trust is crucial in any sales relationship. The first thing you need to know when speaking to a new prospect is what challenges they are facing in their business and financial lives. You also will need to find out what their hopes and goals are for their business and how they plan on achieving them. Once you have this information you can then shift your focus to discussing the features and benefits of your service and how they will help in both overcoming the challenges and reaching the goals that the business owner has outlined for you.

The old school sales methodology had this process turned on its head. This mentality is focused almost entirely around the close. These hard sales tactics have made the general populace weary and defensive when dealing with a typical salesperson that has dollar signs in his eyes and no real regard for the well-being of his clients. One can see where this becomes very problematic. The NCI approach, like many other more modern sales philosophies, is centered on a genuine interest in helping the prospect or client. This is known as consultative sales or relationship sales. In taking this approach, you get the prospect to lower their guard and let you into their world. To do this you must eliminate your own self-interest in making the deal. Instead, focus on genuinely helping the person you are sitting down with. When you ask questions make sure to do so with a genuine interest and then actively listen to the response being given. I cannot overstate the importance of these elements in developing a sales relationship and ultimately making more long term sales.

When I say “actively listen,” I mean don’t just half-listen while waiting for your turn to speak and simultaneously figuring out what you’re going to say next. Instead, you must focus intently on what the prospect is saying. Once they have finished speaking, rephrase what they have said to confirm that you have understood their meaning completely. Then follow up with another question which ties in to their response to the previous question and continue this way until you have gathered the information you require on that topic. You will often need to ask a series of questions to get to the true core of the issue. Most people are not incredibly forthcoming about personal financial and business matters with a stranger they just met. That is why you must ask good follow up questions and show genuine interest. This is the same process a good marriage counselor, doctor or psychotherapist uses to diagnose problems within a marriage, a body or a mind. A tip for effective probing is to not make the probe an interrogation. You don’t want to just run down a list of factual questions without a break. In between your questions you should make poignant comments and offer up helpful ideas and suggestions. By doing this you will be relating to your prospect and showing that you care about what they have to say while also positioning yourself as a helpful advisor.

So now you are asking sincere questions and actively listening to the responses given. Once you have a full appreciation of what this business owner is facing and why they agreed to meet with you in the first place, only then can you offer a solution in the form of your services. One of the most important questions to ask is, “what is the most important factor to you in selecting an accounting firm to work with?” The response to this question should illustrate nicely which of your features and subsequent benefits you will want to focus on when you present your services. Also, if the prospect currently works with an accountant, the logical question to ask is; “what issues are you having in your current accounting relationship that lead you to agree to this meeting?” Usually this will open the flood gates; you should never bad mouth another accounting firm but feel free to let your prospective client do it for you! Once they have outlined the issues with their current accountant, this is the best time to ask what they are paying to that accountant for all the services they are not receiving. You may be able to ascertain this number from a financial statement if they provide one to you but many times they will not do so. If you can determine what they are paying their current accountant, this will be a tremendous advantage when it comes time to name your price.

Another key question to ask is, “what are your financial and business goals over the next several years?” If you have developed good rapport with the prospect they will be happy to share this information with you. In fact, if you follow the tips in this article and master them, you will be surprised at what someone you just met is willing to share with you. This is a very good thing because knowledge is paramount in the sales process. People buy things from people they like and from people like themselves so by finding ways to sincerely relate to your prospect, you are bridging what probably seemed like an insurmountable gap between two strangers meeting for the first time, usually over the course of a single 30-50 minute meeting.

This is just a small fraction of what is covered at our Practice Development Seminar. We will show you how to develop and improve sales skills that will benefit you and your business for the rest of your life. To learn more, feel free to call 1-800-338-0778 or click around the NCI website. If you want to improve your quality of life in 2017, then call today and get started on your path to a more successful future.

Chris Clark