The Sales Professional’s Tool Box-Part II: The Different Types of Questions and When and How to Use Them

In our last article, we discussed the importance of having a firm grasp and understanding of what questions to ask and when to ask them.  This understanding is critical to use face to face, but even more important when taking incoming sales calls. We even covered the difference between Open vs. Closed ended questions, as well as when to use and not use them in the selling process. Lastly, we touched on the purpose of a Commitment Question or Trial Close and how they are effective at getting customers in the habit of saying: Yes.

Today we will discuss the use of probing statements and/or questions, when to use them, and how they allow the individual to build a business relationship. We will also cover Choice and Closing questions.

Let’s get started!

PROBING STATEMENTS/QUESTONS

A probing statement or question is one of the most misunderstood techniques at our disposal today. By definition, a probe is a: “Short, non-threatening statement or question related to the topic being discussed informing the sender that you would like additional information.” The probe is a simple, yet effective technique for anyone to use in a two-way conversation that keeps communication moving forward down an established path.

An example of a probe would be asking a customer what type of equipment they seek in a new car. Customer responds, “It has to be pretty loaded leather, sun-roof, and the communication package.” We respond with a probing question, “What else?”

These short type of questions/statements are the key to acquire more insight on the customer’s preferences. Some additional examples would be i.e. tell me more, could you elaborate, really?, etc.

OPTIONAL CHOICE QUESTIONS

Optional choice questions are questions that end in either/or choices for the customer:

Are you looking for a two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive?

Do you prefer light shades or dark shades?

Are you looking for a new vehicle or do you want to look at pre-owned vehicles as well?

These questions help lead the customer through the interview process either on the phone or in person. They are also the type of questions most effective for setting appointments:

When’s the best time for you to come in, morning or afternoon?

Were you thinking early morning around nine or maybe closer to eleven?

Great! Since you get off early on Thursday, would you like to come in during the afternoon or does the evening work better for you?

CLOSING QUESTIONS

We can also use optional choice questions as our closing questions:

You’re going to love your new [vehicle]! Are you going to register it with one name or two?

Looks like we found the perfect vehicle for you – do you want hot coffee or a cold bottle of water while we wrap up the paperwork?

I’m sure you’re excited to start enjoying your new [vehicle]! Do you want us to order any accessories or do you want to take it as is?

Used as closing questions, these types of optional questions take the pressure off the customer. A question like, “do you want to buy today?” or “are you ready to do the paperwork right now?” are less effective because they place pressure on the customer while inviting unnecessary objections.

Think about the last time you were asked such a finite question with no warning. You probably quickly defaulted to the negative without even realizing it! No one likes unnecessary pressure.

Conclusion

The types of questions you use and when you use them will greatly determine your selling success rate. Just like any other skill, however, practicing these different types of questions is the key to improvement, especially if you want to sell more. In order to keep your skillset sharp, practice as much as possible.

Authors:

Robert Simmons has been in the auto industry for over 20-years. He has held many different positions within various dealerships, from Marketing Director and Training Director, to Sales Manager. For the majority of his career, he worked with Sewell Ford in Odessa, Texas.

Chuck McGraw has been in the retail automotive industry for over 30-years, presently serving as the President and CEO of Marcom Technologies. Marcom was the first to pioneer recording-based sales training in the late 80’s, and over the past 3 decades, developed proprietary methodologies that increase dealership performance. Marcom takes a blend of technology and human interaction to drive behavioral changes that increase sales and service.

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