The Moses Questioning Strategy. By Michael Q. Pink
Selling is based on what the client says, not on what you say, yet most salespeople think that if they just had a better presentation or gave a better “sales pitch,” they would make more sales. Certainly, you may have better results with a better presentation, but the real increase comes from understanding the client’s real needs. According to one survey, sales reps asking five or more questions closed 72% more business than a person asking only two questions.
Your questions should have purpose, be strategic in nature, and flow in a logical sequence. You’re there to extend the market share of your company in a manner that best serves the client. You want to take new territory and establish a permanent position within that company. You will be met with resistance, both from the skeptical buyer and the aggressive competitor who will not leave without a fight.
Now consider Moses, who was strategizing the conquest of Canaan. The Israelites were going to take new territory and establish a permanent presence; they fully expected resistance. Moses sent in twelve spies to check out the land. They weren’t going in to make a presentation or do a slide show. Moses wanted one thing: answers. He sent the spies in to find out the answers to seven questions, because he knew that the battle is won based on what you discover, not on what you disclose.
The first thing Moses wanted them to find out was the lay of the land. He wanted an understanding of the terrain they would be fighting on. In business, I call this “circumstantial questioning.” These questions are good ice breakers and help demonstrate a genuine interest in who the prospect is and what they’re all about.
The second and third questions Moses wanted answers for were whether the people who dwelt in that land were strong or weak, few or many. It was imperative for Moses to know what they would be up against. History records that, based on the answers to his seven questions, Israel executed what is now commonly referred to as the “divide and conquer” strategy, which is taught in military colleges to this day.
The final four steps of the strategy are:
4. Moses also wanted to discover whether the land was good or bad. In sales, it is important to qualify a prospect before presenting the benefits of doing business with your firm. You can ask some basic questions that will automatically rule the prospect in or out as a potential client.
5. Moses also wanted to know if the land was fertile or barren. What we really want to find out here is whether their current way of doing things is productive relative to the potential.
6. Moses asked whether the cities they inhabited were like tents or strongholds. The implications here are far-reaching. Is your competition deeply entrenched and committed to staying, or are they likely to leave with little resistance? Are they thinking short-term or long-term?
7. The seventh question Moses had was, “Is there any wood?” One of the main aspects of the wood is its use for building. So, ask your prospect about their goals, their vision, and their dreams. Most salespeople never take the time to find out the prospect’s vision for the future and how their product or service can help them get to where they want to go.
After getting all these questions answered, Moses insisted on one last thing. He wanted his spies to “bring back some of the fruit of the land.” All too often, salespeople leave a prospect’s office with no clearly defined next step. Sometimes that’s a purchase order and delivery schedule. Sometimes it’s a down payment. Other times it’s an agreed upon call back or phone appointment.
If you apply this questioning sequence as part of an overall planned sales process, your presentations will be far more effective — resulting in much higher closing ratios.
Michael Q. Pink is a bestselling author, speaker and creator of Selling Among Wolves – Without Joining the Pack! training programs, providing Biblical solutions for maximizing the impact of sales and marketing strategies. Come hear Michael on Wednesday, March 3, 2010, in the afternoon at a free Ziglar webcast. Click here for more details.