Research about how to ask questions, and what questions to ask, can be most useful. Neil Packham, author of The S.P.I.N. Selling Fieldbook, is the source authority on this.
He literally recorded 35,000 sales conversations, all of them business-to-business, high-dollar efforts. When the transcripts of those conversations were loaded into huge computer databases, Packham saw that the types of questions the salespeople asked fell into four categories—and that only two of those types of questions were strongly positively correlated with selling success.
In other words, people who asked those two specific types of questions sold much more than those who didn’t ask those powerful types of questions. So it’s clear from Packham’s research that we should be asking those two powerful types of questions after we have identified some Pain the prospect is having.
Here’s a description of the two most powerful types of questions you can ask when you’re selling; read Packham’s book for details:
Questions that ask, “What does that problem, or that Pain, mean to you?”
Questions that ask, “If you solved that problem, or eliminated that Pain, what would that mean to you?”
In each example above, you would fill in the Pain the prospect admitted having, rather than using the word “Pain” in the question you pose, of course.
So you see, in order to pose either of these powerful types of questions, you have to know something about the Pain your prospect is feeling. Then you ask her about that—using one of the two types of questions described above.