Home > Education > Let's see how well you understand sales skills.

Let's see how well you understand sales skills.

Question # 1


DURING THE SALES INTERVIEW;

If you think the prospect just stated an opportunity, but you are not completely sure, how do you confirm it as a need? - by Gold Calling
Question # 1


DURING THE SALES INTERVIEW;

If you think the prospect just stated an opportunity, but you are unsure, how do you confirm it as a need?
"Mr. Customer, just so I can ensure that you and I are on the same page, your saying that (rephrase what customer just said), is that correct?" - by jrboyd
"Mr. Customer, just so I can ensure that you and I are on the same page, your saying that (rephrase what customer just said), is that correct?"
First of all, thank you very much for your contribution to this thread. A question if I may?

What do you call that skill jrboyd? - by Gold Calling
Actually its part of the NLP training. And its pretty much common sense to. When you don't understand exactly what the customer is saying, you repeat it to get it clarified. So not sure what skill to call it. I'll name it Jrboyd's Clarification skill!!! :P - by jrboyd
Depending upon how the opportunity was uncovered in the process, questions as Jr advanced probably do the job as well as any... bottom line, clarifying your understanding with the client.

Questions such as "John, you just said you thought having rubber tracks on this Bob Cat would get eaten up on lava". Is your concern the probability of track failure, excessive wear and expense, or something else?"

If John goes on to express his concern, I think that the opportunity to suggest metal tracks, or whatever else they'd use to overcome high wear on lava to solve the concern would be in order and if the answer to that was affirmed, then moving forward with the discussion centered on the new track and other benefits could be summed up with...

"So John, with our self lubricating impact resistant neoprene tracks that won't ruin paved driveways nor give in to the coarse environment you have to operate in were installed on your BobCat, wouldn't that provide you with the maneuverability, stability, and efficiency you're looking for in a versatile multi-function tracked vehicle?

If on the other hand, during an intial discussion, John blurted out, "You know, I like the idea of them neoprene tracks. Are they really as durable as you guys say they are?" Oh yeah... and they leave no footprints on pavement either... you could go sneaking all over the neighborhood with this thing unawares... Quiet too... and it's financeable with only 5% down or 100% driveaway with either 3 year or 4 year payment schedules. How often do you turn these things in in YOUR business? 3 years? Great, that would be it then ... let's put this together for you...

Or not... but I don't know what you call this....

Aloha... :cool: - by rattus58
Actually its part of the NLP training. And its pretty much common sense to. When you don't understand exactly what the customer is saying, you repeat it to get it clarified. So not sure what skill to call it.
Do we just repeat it? In your example you asked a question. WHAT IS THIS CALLED???

The key is; If we think this was important to them, that is it could be a real need (that they did not say enough or expand their thought enough for us to be certain), we need to get them to tell us in their own words. And, I need to be clear, this skill did not come from NLP (though they no doubt incorporated it in their teachings), and; it does have a very specific and well known name in the sales training industry.

I know you understand how to do it jrboyd … we all should know what it is we are doing not just how to do it. And in case this sounds backward, I will explain why I think this so critical.

Questions such as "John, you just said you thought having rubber tracks on this Bob Cat would get eaten up on lava. Is your concern the probability of track failure, excessive wear and expense, or something else?"
Excellent. May I say that this is a very good application.

You know, I like the idea of them neoprene tracks. Are they really as durable as you guys say they are?"
This will be an accepted benefit if the question is handled correctly. The best way to confirm the issue of durability - in this example - is a PROOF SOURCE (third party reference letter or trade magazine assessment or independent research survey). in other words, you need to SUPPORT the need.

Once again, excellent stuff rattus.

Does anyone know the name of this common sales skill? - by Gold Calling
Thank you for the kind words Gold... I'm learning a lot from this place and you're a big part of my learning....

Much Aloha,

Tom :cool: - by rattus58
Does anyone know the name of this common sales skill?
I believe what you are referring to is commonly called probing.

When addressed as a systematic process of stages, I have heard it called the inquiry stage, but that's in a different context from your question. - by Ace Coldiron
Everybody has needs,wants, and nice to have's.

Ask your customer...... Is this something that is important to you?

j.p.o - by DIAMONDSTAR
I believe what you are referring to is commonly called probing.
Yes, correct Ace, this sales skill does fall into the category of is probing but what type of PROBE? - by Gold Calling
We give up what type of probe is this? - by jrboyd
We give up what type of probe is this?
I have trouble believing that in this forum of great sales producers that not a one of you can tell me the type of probe. After all, there are only two types.

Anyone else know? - by Gold Calling
Don't really know what the book learning would call it but I think it is good personal skills technique to understand who you're selling... with emphasis on the internalized who. What is their "hot button" although maybe not quite Politically correct.. really sorta hits the thrust of what we're doing... finding hot buttons... finding areas of concern, needs or desires.

I'm not sure if it was you or one of the other more advanced sales students here who said it, but I relate to the statement of knowing "who" your client is.

So... the questioning or probing could be "probing who"... :)

Who are you, whatdya want, when do you need it and do I have it at a price you're willing to pay for it. Did I miss anything... Oh yes I did... the obverse.... Here's what I got, This is how it works, this is how you'd use it, this is how others use it to do things that you're doing without it/not doing but could/should and will this save you time/money/frustration for the price I'm offering it to you for? or something like that...

And along those lines, I know a salesman of fine automobiles who doesn't even talk about his cars but whether he/she has kids... how old are they... is she wanting to have something comfortable and safe for them to ride around in... did she want doors that could open up into traffic or slide flush with the car away from traffic.... did she want something that is easy to clean in case of spills or accidents... something easy to vacuum... a play station for the kids so that mom's not distracted... on and on... no mention of the car... he's my hero....

Aloha... :cool: - by rattus58
Don't really know what the book learning would call it
You need to know because if you don't you might not know how to deal with it. The skill is a critical one, one that every sales person needs to be able to handle instantly and easily. And part of handling it right is knowing what it is we have to do - a term is therefore an excellent way to remember and realize what action to take.

Once I do name which type of PROBE it is, this will make sense (as to why naming it is important).

... I know a salesman of fine automobiles who doesn't even talk about his cars but whether he/she has kids... how old are they... is she wanting to have something comfortable and safe for them to ride around in... did she want doors that could open up into traffic or slide flush with the car away from traffic.... did she want something that is easy to clean in case of spills or accidents... something easy to vacuum...
Selling is not telling.

The sales person you describe is the one person you should emulate. As that IS the most professional way to sell.

"did she want doors that could open up into traffic or slide flush with the car away from traffic" this is a feature.

"less dangerous" is the advantage.

"Passenger safety" is the benefit.

NOW - getting back on the topic of this thread - what is the name of this type of PROBE that you use to confirm that what you thought was an "opportunity" is actually a "need" ???

Two words.
- by Gold Calling
need= payoff questions = beenfit - by rich34232
need= payoff questions = beenfit
So you are saying if there is a need you ask something called PAYOFF QUESTIONS then express a benefit? I am not sure if that is what you meant.

But what if you have a clue form a prospect that they may have a need, call this an "opportunity" and you want to confirm the need.

Ace called this a PROBE, which is asking a question. He is right on of course but what kind of probe?

I am looking for two words. - by Gold Calling
So you are saying if there is a need you ask something called PAYOFF QUESTIONS then express a benefit? I am not sure if that is what you meant.

But what if you have a clue form a prospect that they may have a need, call this an "opportunity" and you want to confirm the need.

Ace said you PROBE, which is asking a question. If you call them PAYOFF QUESTIONS that is fine, I can work with that. What kind of probe do you ask? There are two kinds.
On another thread, the subject of "basics" is discussed. Nothing is more basic than the fact that we come into this world with needs and wants with never a thought towards "payoff questions".

You and I have agreed that the state of sales education in our profession is deplorable. I have often thought that a major reason for that is because of a common, yet unspoken, false premise--that salespeople most act outside of the realm of normal human behavior.

Everybody on this thread has taken the time to study the field, and it is so easy to stray from the basics with all the guru-istic terminology now out there.

Your topic (and devotion) is instructional and valuable. Unless you think I've already done it, maybe it's time to drop the other shoe. - by Ace Coldiron
On another thread, the subject of "basics" is discussed. Nothing is more basic than the fact that we come into this world with needs and wants with never a thought towards "payoff questions".

You and I have agreed that the state of sales education in our profession is deplorable. I have often thought that a major reason for that is because of a common, yet unspoken, false premise--that salespeople most act outside of the realm of normal human behavour.

Everybody on this thread has taken the time to study the field, and it is so easy to stray from the basics with all the guruistic terminology now out there.

Your topic (and devotion) is instructional and valuable. Unless you think I've already done it, maybe it's time to drop the other shoe.

Gold Calling is stuck on Spin Selling as a methodology

In short this methodology identifies a need and is followed up with the client positive involvement and affirmation on how they are going to benefit.

In short what the goal is here is to enable the client to close themselves by helping them actualize the benefit from this service/product.

We have touched on this strategy on different posts, & expressed this strategy which is a good strategy, but not a reigning Methodology.

If you are going to talk about the merits of spin selling, Gold Calling, put your cards on the table & tell us that is what you want to talk about.


j.p.o - by DIAMONDSTAR
We have touched on SPIN strategy on different posts, & expressed this strategy which is a good strategy, but not a reigning Methodology.

If you are going to talk about the merits of spin selling, Gold Calling, put your cards on the table & tell us that is what you want to talk about.
First we need to be very clear, I am not SPIN taught. In fact, I never even read SPIN. Furthermore, the man who wrote it was not a salesman but a psychologist who happens to have received his sales knowledge from a source MUCH OLDER than SPIN (the book has a 1988 copyright, I had already been teaching this skill for 5 years and had learned it 11 years prior to SPIN. Now can you see that such a suggestion as me being stuck on SPIN is simply false?).

Second I have put all the cards on the table, I have openly stated that I beleive that the sales training industry is in the worst condition it has ever been in, AND; now I am establishing (or trying to - I never expected so much reluctance to answer a simple question) in this thread and others that even pros don't know the name of a technique or many names of any selling techniques.

I believe there is an amazing potential benefit from doing this. I have asked you to trust me and answer one question, that is all. And I have not in any way shape or form insulted anyone, certainly had no intent to do so.

I have also been very verbal about my dislike for the main SPIN concept that closing is a non event, in so many threads and blogs that my reputation should proceed me.

In Ace's thread about one methodology I was very, very clear to state that I do not think that any one training company has it right (especially SPIN) and, beleive me, I am not stuck on Spin (how could I be? I never took a Huthwaite course, never read spin and have only read about two dozen of their white papers and that was in the last year and a half. Oh, I did argue with one of their principals on the phone one day, politely of course).

Neil Rackham is owed a debt of gratitude for his research into sales. Just not the debt he tries to extract though (this is another topic).

Simply put, not a one of you can express the fact that a certain type of probe, which does not come from SPIN's doctrine, is what is called for when you are unsure of whether the prospect just revealed a clue about their need/want/desire - a clue some call "an opportunity".

Two words, one of them is PROBE.

Now, I have never heard the term PAYOFF QUESTIONS ... that is two words, not the ones I was looking for ... and, I am thinking that they are this type of PROBE but there is value in understanding what type of question you are asking. Because we do ask two types, whether they lead direct to "payoff" or not.

And, Ace, this is not guru-istic, I promise.

What I want to know is - does anyone in this forum know?

I would also like to respectfully ask for the insults or insulting manner to be avoided at all cost no matter who posts, in this or any thread.

There is no need for it. - by Gold Calling
If I don't know something, then teach me.

Aloha... Tom :cool: - by rattus58
If I don't know something, then teach me.
Gladly rattus58 but after we find out if anyone knows the answer, .... in due course, all in due course.

Just looking for two words and we have one of them already;


" ______________ Probe"


It has also been expressed with two words this way;


"___________ Question"


Those two expressions are the only ones I have read or heard that explain this sales and communication technique, which we have a great example of in this thread but no one so far can name (kudos to Ace for knowing PROBE but it is one of two categories of probes that is need in this case).
- by Gold Calling
Open ended question! Wheres my prize? - by jrboyd
Open ended question! Wheres my prize?
Hahaha.... :)

I guess you could consider the question a probe when you consider the term probe as seeking information it makes sense, and I'd be going along with you on the open ended question...

Aloha.... :cool: - by rattus58
An open probe is based on questions like, who, what, why, when and where It is designed to illicit information

Closed probes are based on question like, do, is, are, have, has, which, & or This is designed to limit your clients answer

This based on a needs based methodology, & implemented in more Modern methodology, ie Spin & Consultive Selling - by DIAMONDSTAR
Spin & Consultative Selling
Both of these are merely off-shoots really. Sold a lot of books but did they introduce this skill? No.

The history of SPIN starts with why Neil Rackham was hired in 1977 by RANK XEROX. This was because they were getting poor conversion to client ratio in the U.K. (in comparison to the better trained reps in the U.S.) ... but of course, some EXEC feared that things were different "over there" and wanted to spend a lot of money to find out. what they found out was things are not different int eh U.K., sellign is selling.

When you look at PSS II (I have a copy here), which came out before Rackham got his contract to do research from RANK XEROX, you see that OPEN and CLOSED PROBES were a part of that course (and PSS I too, which dates even further back) ... now you can see how Neil got his sales skills information and from where.

Of course, Xerox did not invent the techniques of asking these two types of questions to gather information - to "probe" the prospect in order to understand their needs. Nor did they invent "need satisfaction selling", they merely trademarked the term.

PROBING is age old. It is clearly mentioned in a sales training book that is not over 90 years old.

I do not know Mack Hanan's background, the author of Consultative Selling. I do know that it was first published in 1970 and is now on its sixth edition. It is clear that the

The answer is CLOSED PROBE, not open probe. DIAMONDSTAR is correct, you want to limit the response with a CLOSED PROBE. Thus you can confirm - "Did he state a need?" Or; "Was she sayign that she wants to change that?"

If you don't know what your prospect thinks you are asuming the need, this is obviously a mistake.

The technique is simple really. Many of you use it every day. what interests me is that no one knew what it was. No one could say CLOSED PROBE or CLOSED QUESTION, which should be obvious .... yet it is not.

I am sure you can see now that there is nothing GURU like in this post. Nor am I "stuck" on any type of trainign material. far from it actually.

Now for the reason for this thread, the part I can't answer;

Why?

Why was that so difficult? Was it the way I set up the thread? Or is it (as I assume) that the state of sales training and therefore sales skills knowledge, which appears to be nearly non existent within our profession?
- by Gold Calling
Actually now that I went back to the beginning of the thread to see what the original question was... Ok... I can accept the "closed question/probe" moniker.

Why we don't know what to callit is something else again. Many of us read ... scratch that.... I have read literally thousands of pages of sales stuff and go glassy eyed even at some of the guys I like the best... tracy, hopkins, ziglar, gerard, gitomer, and a bunch of insurance guys, savage, feldman, and so many others that the minutae gets glossed over with some of me going for the idea of the particular process as opposed to the text.

Aloha... :cool: - by rattus58
Let’s put this in perspective. A methodology irregardless of it’s brand has it’s value. Some of us are extinctive why we do something, weather we can explain from where we contrived our style, ie sales manager, book, seminar experience or whatever. What methodology does is it outlines a strategy. Something that we can put in new sales people’s hands (or veteran dogs) to make them effective, so they are not out there flapping so to say. In our current economic climate, superimposed over a stimulus package. Sales staff & managers need to be on their game, more than ever. What happens if they are not. Mechandise doesen’t leave the shelves, wharehouses get overloaded, factories shutdown, shareholders withdraw their money, etc,etc,etc……..& the wheel stops spinning and we start seeing tumbleweeds passing by.

In regards to this site, there is a 43% traffic downturn in unique traffic views in the last 90 days. There is a tone or something that’s is pushing people from looking further at different pages, in a time as it is now we should be seeing the opposite. If we are to take an academic approach, lets be clear who we are talking about, so at the end of the day everybody can take something home with them.

That’s just the opinion of a plebiscite contributor


j.p.o - by DIAMONDSTAR
I read your post DiamnondStar but still feel the question has validity. WHY isn't this more obvious?

True, most of us do various things in a sales situation instinctively. But we still must teach a new generation how to sell. And these teachings have nothing to do with guru-ism if we are simply showing the proper way to communicate.

I could have took a whole different tact with this thread. I could have said something like;

If your prospect says something you think was important to them but you are unsure what is on their mind, how do you confirm that?

This way words like NEEDS or OPPORTUNITY need not have confused any reader that is familiar with other terms, like "payoff questions". Doing it this way there is no sales methodology tied whatsoever.

If I had done it like that and anyone answered a single word, say using a "question" (the point does not change if they used PROBE) ... then we would still be right to say what type of question. Because there are still two types, the kind that is more likely to allow people to talk freely and the kind that is more likely to limit the response.

But no one said that either. Never mind saying CLOSED PROBE - we did not even get a response the described what to do in other terms. In case you are unclear on that, by all means, re-read the thread.

Obviously, after the prospect says YES to your confirming question (closed probe), meaning you assumed correctly, they may go on and talk. As you know, closed probes don't necessarily mean you get an answer like YES or NO and nothing else, you often get the response an then the prospect goes on. The point is you do learn what you need to know.

Removing all methodologies, which is preferable to me because I don't follow one but aspects of several (not including SPIN) as well as some of my own stuff, is it not important that we could communicate on this forum and understand each other? How else could we get into refining a technique?

Whether you choose to speak in terms of need or pain or; question or probe, or; consultative approach or needs satisfaction approach - I personally could care less which - does it really change what we must do when we think we know what they are saying but are not sure?

To me this is valid. Shrug it off if you must, this is your prerogative as it is everyone else's that contributes here. I still beleive that most people in sales do not know what they are doing some of the time in a sales situation and it hurts them in both good economic times and bad. Though it it is hard to prove unless a sales master goes with various sales people and tracks the call. - by Gold Calling
If your prospect says something you think was important to them but you are unsure what is on their mind, how do you confirm that?
"If your prospect says something you think was important to them but you are unsure what is on their mind, how do you confirm that?"

Let's take that question, and pick apart the type of answers it might invite. Either we answer it with an impromptu guess, or the answer is so ingrained in us that we don't even have to think. Maybe we want to say what sounds good or what will draw the most approval. Maybe there are some that don't think it is a worthwhile question. Maybe we treat it like a quiz and hope we come up with the right answer. Maybe our answer doesn't fit the context of this discussion, but still fits the question.

My answer--completely honest and not concerned with what others want to hear:

I have the ability to get away with asking a question in the form of a command, and because I am strong in the mutual trust and respect department, I get answers and never offend a prospect. I say, "Tell me exactly what you mean."

Can everybody at every level do that? No. - by Ace Coldiron
I think I am spending to much time workiing and not enough time in here answering questions. wink. - by rich34232
"Tell me exactly what you mean."

Cool, very commanding style. Now from this point Ace, are you transitioning into a qualifier Ie if I can meet your needs are you prepared to go forward…. today?, or into a request for more information (self involvement question ) ie how will this help you or a porcupine to illicit a yes answer? Ie restating their need as a question. - by DIAMONDSTAR
"Tell me exactly what you mean."

Cool, very commanding style. Now from this point Ace, are you transitioning into a qualifier Ie if I can meet your needs are you prepared to go forward…. today?, or into a request for more information (self involvement question ) ie how will this help you or a porcupine to illicit a yes answer? Ie restating their need as a question.
No. Those would be examples of reactive listening. I want to listen, I want to hear, I want to respond to what is being said after I hear what is being said.

Qualifying implodes, and I'm not inserting it as part of a linear approach. The advance commitment would be formatted to suit the person, the relationship, and/or the circumstances. Information will flow naturally. Porcupining, I'll leave to Tom Hopkins unless it flows naturally. - by Ace Coldiron
This is very good for all to revisit and practice each and every time you perceive a problem. - by rich34232
"If your prospect says something you think was important to them but you are unsure what is on their mind, how do you confirm that?"
I have the ability to get away with asking a question in the form of a command, and because I am strong in the mutual trust and respect department, I get answers and never offend a prospect. I say, "Tell me exactly what you mean."
Ace - this is an OPEN PROBE. Since you wanted to know something specific, it is more effective to say "Did you mean an improved efficiency of your production lines would give you the opportunity to take on more work and thereby generate more profit that way?"

The answer confirms that what you thought was on his/her mind is in fact that or not that. Yes or No.

Whereas saying;

Tell me exactly what you mean. Or;

Tell me more about that.

... these are not closed probes.

While you can say that it is delivered as a command, there is no way to be sure that you did not leave an opportunity behind ... as they may interpret this to mean;
tell me more about your production line and problems as apposed to that exact issue.

We are either dancing in the dark or we ask clarifying questions to be certain that we understand what is on their mind. Our job is to communicate in a highly efficient manner. Learn what is important to them and show them how we can provide that with our product or service. To be really effective it is important at times to clarify - this is done with a closed probe not an open one - no matter how well we can pull off auto suggestion (the 'command').

... Now from this point Ace, are you transitioning into a qualifier, ie. if I can meet your needs are you prepared to go forward…. today?
Since you did not know what the need(s) was/were at this stage, you only thought you did (as I posed it in this thread as a hypothetical and very common situation) you cannot know you will meet their needs yet. So, clearly, any form of moving to close is not warranted at this point.

Just a little food for thought, hope it helps. - by Gold Calling
Ace - this is an OPEN PROBE. Since you wanted to know something specific, it is more effective to say "Did you mean an improved efficiency of your production lines would give you the opportunity to take on more work and thereby generate more profit that way?"

The answer confirms that what you thought was on his/her mind is in fact that or not that. Yes or No.

Whereas saying;

Tell me exactly what you mean. Or;

Tell me more about that.


... these are not closed probes.

While you can say that it is delivered as a command, there is no way to be sure that you did not leave an opportunity behind ... as they may interpret this to mean; tell me more about your production line and problems as apposed to that exact issue.

We are either dancing in the dark or we ask clarifying questions to be certain that we understand what is on their mind. Our job is to communicate in a highly efficient manner. Learn what is important to them and show them how we can provide that with our product or service. To be really effective it is important at times to clarify - this is done with a closed probe not an open one - no matter how well we can pull off auto suggestion (the 'command').



Since you did not know what the need(s) was/were at this stage, you only thought you did (as I posed it in this thread as a hypothetical and very common situation) you cannot know you will meet their needs yet. So, clearly, any form of moving to close is not warranted at this point.

Just a little food for thought, hope it helps.
GC, let me give you my stream of thoughts in succession after reading your response twice.

My first thought was that I know the difference between a closed probe and an open probe and the original topic was "How well do you know your sales skills?".

My second thought was that I answered your revised question honestly as promised because "Tell me exactly what you mean by that." is something I would say and say effectively.

My next thought was that I rely heavily on an effective STYLE of communication and that in itself is a sales skill as advanced as what you are addressing.

Then I thought about how we all rely on our best skills. Gretzky vs The Rocket. Ali vs Marciano.

Then I put aside my ego, and my own preferences, and re-read what you wrote. I took your closed probe example OUT of the environment where I enjoy a great conversion rate, and into areas where perhaps I don't tread, and I saw how keen and powerful your insight was on this topic.

Very instructive, GC. - by Ace Coldiron
Very instructive, GC.
The right use of open probes and closed is extremely important - with timing being critical (and those not used to PROBE simply need insert the word QUESTION). Anyone's sales success rate will jump once they understand the difference.

Of course, I clearly see your insight on almost commanding prospects to speak at times, which is truly advanced. If used at the right time this is clearly a powerful tool too. - by Gold Calling
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