There are thousands of ways to kill a sale.

I start a lot of my blogs with those exact words and with good reason – people are still making the same mistakes and are blown away when the client says “No”. My mission is to help those in business understand that excuses are not valid anymore, know the how, why and what of securing the sale.

Bringing me to the reveal of a trade secret. The four most powerful question I know that will help you to identify what you can do to extend and deepen your existing client relationships.

The Four Sales Questions.

These questions are structured purposely to lead your client through a conscious process of associating you, your business and team, your product and/or service with their own ongoing success. Think of these questions as not only ‘Sales Questions’ but ‘Focus Questions’, ‘Revenue Growth Questions’ and ‘Client Questions’.

So what are these elusive golden ticket questions I’ve been hiding up my sleeve?

Ask your client these four simple questions:

  1. How Are We Going?
  2. What Else Can We do, to Make Things EVEN BETTER?
  3. What Are You Planning?
  4. How Can We Help You?

Now let me explain.

How Are We Going? – Is about making your clients take the time to think about and realise how much value you are providing them and how much they enjoy working with you.

This question may also draw out areas of your relationship and performance that your client feels are not meeting their expectations. Similar to publicity, there’s no such thing as bad feedback- just a chance to be better.

It’s better to proactively find out and then you can use the other questions to develop an action plan to improve in these areas jointly, then to reactively find out when your client goes to tender or worse still, starts buying from one of your competitors!

What Else Can We Do, to Make Things EVEN BETTER? – Is about showing them you want to add even more value for them.

This question is also showing your client their importance to you, that you are not taking them for granted.

It’s a significant question to use as the basis for jointly developing an action plan to implement ideas, processes, systems, and or regular communications that focus on continuous improvement of the relationship.

What Are You Planning?– Is about getting clients to associate you and the certainty you provide (your value) to their relevant plans/projects/proposed activities.

You may need to drill into your clients’ responses to get further details about each particular opportunity they share with you.

Don’t forget to ask them if they have any plans/projects/proposed activities after their initial one you’ve discussed.

How Can We Help You? – Is about getting clients to think consciously about including you, your products and services in their plans.

Remember your clients buy from you because they:

  • They respect you = Relationship (you are interested in them)
  • They trust you = Performance (you walk your talk; you deliver)
  • You make it easy for them = The way you deal with them, the things you do, and the knowledge you have of each other’s businesses makes it easy

Your clients are so busy that they don’t have the time or desire to shop around because it would be harder than continuing to buy from you.

Now you know the questions, how can you implement them to help you now?

1. Select a couple of important clients and organise a meeting to ask them the above questions in order.

2. Remember, negative feedback from question 1 can become positive, as long as you resolve whatever it is they are dissatisfied with. Use question 2 to jointly develop an action plan to improve the identified areas.

3. If you ask the questions, you need to follow through on what you talk about. Make sure you keep them up to date with your progress.

4. If your client identifies a couple of plans that you can help with, make sure you ask questions to understand the timeframe, preferred approach, scope, key stakeholders, budget, etc.

5. You can ask ‘The Four Sales Questions’ whenever you think it is suitable. These questions can form the basis of a client survey or become an excellent tool for your CEO, GM or any senior manager to ask when visiting your key accounts.

The key is being seen as part of your clients’ business, not just another supplier.

Originally posted on LinkedIn