Ask these consultative selling questions every time.
Consultative selling means providing powerful advice to your client, even if that advice may be slightly uncomfortable.
Asking questions is a powerful way both demonstrate your expertise, and uncover the information you need to provide the right advice.
Here are the questions that I ask every time, and you should try incorporating in your next consultative selling conversation.
What’s going on?
I like to start every consultative sale with this question because it allows my potential client to say whatever’s on their mind. They’ll no doubt give you a synopsis of what they think is important to the situation, which will help you understand their problem and how they perceive.
When did you decide it was time to fix this?
If a client is talking to you about how you might help them, they’ve been thinking about it much longer (in most cases). The purpose of this question is to understand what triggers or events led them to this conversation.
That information will deepen your understanding of their problem, and give you valuable information about the likelihood that they’ll move forward with the project in the near term. If there are no deadlines or external factors driving their decision, they won’t have as much urgency and may choose to wait on their project.
What have you done to fix this in the past?
This question is intended to help your client recount their previous attempts to solve their problem(s). This jogs their memory, helps you understand what options they have left beyond you, and also provides insight into their depth of understanding about their problem and the solutions that exist to fix it.
Why fix this at all?
Instead of relying on the presumption that your client is already sold on the idea of pursuing their project, it’s good to find out what’s motivating them to do it. They’ll usually respond with information about their business goals, their available resources, and their internal decision making that’s driven them to this point.
Why me? Why not hire someone else to do this?
This questions helps your client identify reasons why they want to work with you. Sometimes they may decide they’d rather work with someone else, and that’s fine! That’s part of the reason to ask. You may also ask something like:
Why not just hire someone internally to do this permanently? Why bring on a consultant?
Usually the answer is simple – “expertise” – but it’s worth asking.
How will you know if this project is a success?
This question is critical because it helps set expectations. It’s important to understand how your client will evaluate their project’s success or failure. This is a good time to set expectations to a realistic level, both in terms of outcomes and timing. So if you help companies improve their SEO and search rankings, they should know it’ll take many months to see results. You may also split results into now and later categories, that may be separated by deliverables (now) and desired outcomes (later).
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