Columnists Ivan Levi Are you asking the right questions?

Are you asking the right questions?

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Warning! The following article will transform your sales, change the way people perceive you, and establish you as a superior communicator. Read on only if you want to have greater success in your career and in life.

Are you guilty of the number one offense in sales?  Many sales people are.

The crime? Not asking your customers effective questions.

Ah, but many of you are saying that you DO ask questions. And I applaud you. But let’s take a closer look at the dynamics of question asking – and how even good communicators can become superior communicators by simply asking the right questions.

One of my passions in life is dissecting the intricacies of sales – and the most overlooked fact in sales training is:

The person asking the questions is the person in control of the conversation.

Reread that last line – it’s that important.

But asking general questions isn’t enough to establish a bond with a customer that just walked into your jewelry store. There is a strategy that you and your jewelry sales staff can implement today and start reaping the benefits of superior questions and listening.

Let’s start by examining two question categories that every sales person should be in command of:

  1. Initial Questions: Also called Opening Questions, or Foundation Questions that start your communication. These are always “open-ended questions” rather than questions that can be answered with a yes or no.
  2. Follow-up Questions: Often called Tag Questions, which are questions based on the response your customer has just given you. Superior communicators always use follow-up questions to further the conversation.

Let’s explore these question types by looking at the typical communication between a new customer and a sales associate in a jewelry store.

The first question asked is usually, “May I help you?” which is a well-intentioned question but the customer can answer with a conversation killer of “no” and then you are scrambling to continue the conversation.

Instead, always ask open-ended questions that require the customer to answer with a full sentence - then you can base additional questions on their response.

As an added value, there is a secret among successful sales people of making a positive statement before asking your initial question – such as:

“Hello! We’re glad you’re here! What brought you in our store today?”

See how that instantly sets up a warm environment before you ask a question.

If you are beat to the punch by a customer that immediately says, “I’m just looking,” you can respond with, “Oh, wonderful – but I’d love to take a minute to show you our latest piece that just arrived.” Now as you are walking to the case you can start your superior questioning skills by asking open-ended questions all along the way. So simple – yet so effective.

But the superior question asker doesn’t stop there – they always use follow-up questions to the response just given. Enticing customers to talk about themselves is a sure fire way to build a bond. And bond building creates returning customers.

Follow-up questions are vitally important in sales. Be sure to use them in every customer conversation.

Now you have the basics for superior communication with all of your customers. And once you start asking better questions you will start seeing enhanced customer relationships and improved sales!

Ivan Levi is celebrating his 26th year in the jewelry industry.  He is president of Ivan Alan jewels® and Ivan Alan Solutions™.  His dynamic sales training seminars are attended throughout the country at trade shows and in-store meetings.  To contact Ivan for seminar information, call 800-235-1918.

 
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