Probing And Clarifying Questions How to Change the Mind of Your Prospect and Get the Information You Need to Motivate Them Toward Taking Action!
Way back in the 1960s when IBM was gaining traction and hiring salesman, they taught them in sales class that “whoever asks the most questions wins the sale!” That still applies today. Have you ever been in a sales process with a salesperson who just kept asking important questions? They asked so many questions and expressed such concern over your issue/need that eventually you began to think, “Hey, I think I might be able to trust this guy…He seems so profoundly into this product/service.” That beginning of trust then turns into a more authentic and congruent professional relationship that culminates in a sale.
That is what probing and clarifying questions can do for you as the marketer of a product or service. Probing questions ask the client to come forth with more information. They might read, “Could you be more specific about the circumstances?” or “Could you go into more detail about that subject?” They are meant to ask for more information to help you understand the real issue. When you have this information you will know how to move forward and help your client.
Probing questions will help you think better, more clearly and deeply about your client’s problem or need. When you ask a probing question, the client will often look away and say something to the effect, “I don’t know…let me think about it.” A quick and ready answer should never follow a probing question. The person being asked the question should pause and really look inward for the answer. Be careful when you ask a probing question that you don’t already have the answer in your head. You want a genuine and authentic response from your client.
Don’t underestimate the simple and powerful use of what, where, when, why, and how. These have been the staple questions of every news reporter ever employed. These are the basic probing, “tell me more” questions. Use them. They work!
Clarifying questions assist the questioner to improve their understanding before continuing on to something else. If clarifying questions are answered truthfully, further probing questions may be asked to gain even more information. A good clarifying question will render factual and brief answers that are not really new information, but a clarification of what has already been explained.
Examples of clarifying questions include
“Now let me see if I understand what you are telling me. Are you saying…? “Is this what you said…?”
“Did I hear you say…?” “Did I understand you when you said…?” “Did I hear you correctly when you said…?” “Did I paraphrase what you said correctly?”
Using probing and clarifying questions have a great many benefits. One of the most important things you can do for your client or any other human for that matter is give them the blessing of actually listening intently to them. There is an intangible and subjective thing that happens between two people when one of them realizes the other is actually genuine and want to help them.
Remember, in sales and marketing you will need tools. These tools in communication will help you get to know your customer, truly understand their need, and ultimately culminate in more sales.
82 questions that will help you find out more about your client which will get you more sales!
- What resources were accessible for this project?
- Will you give me more background information regarding this?
- Why do you want to do this work or engage in this project?
- Why doesn’t this work for you right now?
- Can you speak to me more about what you are experiencing right now?
- How long has this been going on?
- How long have you had this on your mind?
- How is this situation influencing your company, your customers, or your staff?
- How much money would you say this issue has cost you?
- How much longer can you keep doing business like this and stay open?
- When you approached you supplier about the problem, what was their response?
- What was the original set of circumstances that started this issue within your business?
- On a scale of 1-10, how severe is this issue?
- Why do you think the issue has persisted for so long?
- By what point do you need the issue resolved?
- If we can arrive at a solution today, what kind of payoff will there be for your business?
- Do you think this issue has appeared even where you are not aware of it?
- Who do you think is responsible for this outcome?
- Please, could you tell me more?
- Do you think you could estimate how much this will cost you in the long run?
- Why do you think you have been dealing with this issue for so long?
- Why is this happening?
- How do you define your role in this issue?
- What have you been doing to address the current situation?
- What part or facet of this situation bothers you the most?
- What are you doing now to address the problem?
- What did you do in the past to fix the problem?
- Have you used this in the past?
- Does this set of issues impact the rest of your business? How?
- Why do you think this issue has not been resolved in the past?
- What is your timeframe for the solution to this issue?
- How long have you been thinking about this problem?
- Is there anybody within your organization that is aware of this issue?
- What is it costing you to continue to do business this way?
- Do you have a strategy in mind to resolve this problem?
- Who, within your company supports your decisions?
- Do you think this particular issue is causing other issues within your business structure?
- Are there any practical solutions to this issue?
- Do you feel pressure from anyone within your company?
- What kind of presssure are you feeling?
- Do your competitors have this same issue?
- What are your goals and objectives to resolve this issue?
- What would you say is your most complicated challenge righ now?
- What was the cause that made you start seeking a solution to this problem now?
- If this was your kingdom and you were kind for a day, what would you like to see happen?
- Do you have some key objectives for this issue?
- What are your most meaningful options?
- What options have you attempted in the past?
- What are some things you like about the supplier/product/service right now?
- What is your timeframe?
- How important is this need within your company?
- What would you say is the biggest issue facing you right now?
- Are you having any other problems?
- What are you doing now?
- If you had a magic wand, what would things look like after you waved it?
- After seeing all the possible solutions, which one do you resonate with?
- Is there anything I have overlooked or missed in understanding you today?
- Do you have a perference in regard to the solutions offered today?
- Have I mentioned everything?
- Have you considered any other alternatives?
- Do you have any questions to ask of me?
- Will productivity be impacted by this issue?
- How will this issue impact your customers?
- How will it impact future customers?
- How will the issue impact your sales personnel?
- How will other employees be impacted by your decisions today?
- How will the issue impact your sales process?
- Will this issue impact the price points you set for your product/service?
- How will this issue impact your brand?
- Will this issue also give your competitors and advantage?
- How do you think your competitors will use this issue to their advantage?
- If you were the competition, what would you do?
- Have you brainstormed regarding what your competitor may do as a result of knowing about this issue?
- Do your competitors have this same issue?
- Are you the only company that has experienced this issue?
- Does the rest of the industry experience this issue also?
- Is this issue isolated to a certain geographical space or target market?
- Have you understood how much this issue has cost you in terms of total man hours?
- If this issue went away, how much more productive would your process become?
- What number would you place on this issue in terms of priority?
- How much is one sale worth to this company?
- Have I asked you everything that is important to you?
Rule #1: Ask many questions.
Rule #2: Ask many questions.
Rule #3: Ask many questions.
How to Change the Mind of Your Prospect and Get the Information You Need to Motivate Them Toward Taking Action!