Is there such a thing as a stupid question in tele-sales?
You bet your bottom dollar there is! Absolutely!
Questions are not unlike tools. You select the right tool for the right job. The wrong tool can make a mess of things. For example, using pliers to hammer a nail is an exercise in futility and self destruction.
It’s the same with questions. Use the wrong question and you can make a complete and utter mess of the sale. Here are the two stupidest questions to ask in tele-sales:
Stupid Question #1:Tell me what you like about your present supplier?
You might argue that this is a good question. Reps tell me that they learn what a client is looking for in a supplier. This is good information, they say.
Are you kidding me?!
Look at this question from another angle. When you ask a prospect what he or she likes about their present supplier, you get them to bask in the glow all the positives. In doing so, they are reminded of the good relationship they’ve established. They are reminded of all the benefits they get from doing business with this firm. In some cases, you remind the buyer of all the reason he used to justified the use of this supplier.
So how can you possible get a wedge in the door when you’ve helped them articulate how fantastic their supplier is? You can’t. You’ve helped make them bullet proof. The best you can do is match them on benefits but in a ‘tie’, the incumbent always wins. Always.
Stupid Question #2: Is there anything you don’t like about your present supplier?
The logic here is that the prospect is going to gift wrap a problem and place it on your lap.
Like that’s going to happen!
It’s not. In a prospecting situation, rarely- very rarely- will anyone open up and tell you about a problem they are having. Look at it this way, by admitting there’s a problem with the current supplier, the prospect might be admitting a mistake that she or he made. Who wants to do that? By admitting there is a problem suggests they haven’t done anything about it?
One more thing: no one wants to acknowledge warts and blemishes in their buying decisions or actions because it may reflect on them personally. Even if there are some problems, most clients will cover them up. And only in extreme cases will they raise their hand and tell you.
What to do Instead
To find out what the prospect might want in a supplier ask this simple question:
‘Tell me, great what are you looking for in a supplier, apart from a competitive price?”
Deal with the price issue right up front by tossing it aside. Now you’ve got the client thinking about availability, delivery, guarantees, selection and other value items where you might have some comparative muscle. Other good questions include: who are you using; how long have you worked with them; and do they use alternative suppliers for other products of a similar nature?
There are many questions that will provide good information that can lend perspective. Think before you ask but above all, avoid asking these two stupid questions!