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Inside Sales: Questions That Lead To Meaningful Answers


As I was driving into work I began to think about the upcoming day and what I had on my schedule.  I started to think about the interactions I needed to have and realized that over the course of a day I interact with a wide variety of individuals, clients, team members, managers, my peers, my boss, and even the Mass Pike toll collectors some days.  All of these interactions include having a conversation.Sales Questions, Sales Process, 12 20 Fitts 

This particular day I arrived at the office and sat down to do some of my daily industry reading and a colleague in my LinkedIn network had shared an article from Fast Company by Shane Snow titled, “The One Conversational Tool That Will Make You Better At Absolutely Everything” how could I not read an article with that title after thinking about how many conversations I have over the course of the day!!

While reading the article I realized that not only did the advice pertain to my day and the interactions I have but it was a lesson that I always have to ensure the inside sales reps on my team are extremely familiar with.  Shane shares some very specific advice and tactics throughout the article that is certainly worth diving into for anyone who relies on interactions over the course of the day. (So that includes everyone!)

But Shane points out one thing that I work with my team on and that I believe to be critical in generating a qualified opportunity.  Shane references Evan Ratliff, founder of The Atavist, and a comment about one of his skills as a journalist really resonated with me.  Evan stated that one of his greatest attributes as a journalist was “being able to formulate questions that deliver useful answers, whether from advisors or clients or whomever”.  To me this says just about everything we need to be teaching to our reps and practicing ourselves because when we are interacting with potential prospects we need to ensure that we are asking questions that are going to uncover meaningful information. 

Here are a few general examples that you can use to build off of when coaching your reps:

How are you currently handling “abc”?

What will happen if you don’t address “abc” pain or need?

What areas of your operation are currently affected because of “abc” issue?

Before I called you, how did you envision solving the issue?

Bottom line is that we need to be able to have a conversation that will create building blocks that uncover pain/need, and what the prospect wants and is looking to solve so we can determine if there is an opportunity to do business together. 

So thank you for the article Shane, I have shared it with my entire team as we look to wrap-up 2012 and kick-off 2013! 


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About the Author   |   Matt Fitts

Matt Fitts is the Director of Channel Sales for AG Salesworks. He has spent the last 12 years in sales and sales operations, and has been elevating the importance of qualified sales opportunities with AG Salesworks since 2003. He develops and maintains new channel sales opportunities which come in two forms, the selling of AG services through partners and the selling of complementary products and services on behalf of partners. For more information on Matt Fitts, see here.

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