The most difficult part of the relationship between seller and potential customer has always been to try to understand what the latter wants and how to meet his needs , to obtain a satisfactory closure of the sale for both parties. This is where the interview comes into play: a sort of interview with the buyer, useful for creating that harmony without which it is difficult to close any deal. Two types of questions come into play during the interview:
- Closed questions: they are extremely specific and, as an answer, they mainly require a yes or no .
- Open questions: they are much more general, leave the answer free , and allow the customer to better express their needs, expectations and doubts, creating a non-one-way relationship with the seller .
Today we will try to understand how to use open questions which, as we will see, are still preferred in the initial phase of the dialogue with the potential customer.
OPEN QUESTIONS: WHAT ARE THEY AND WHAT PURPOSE DO THEY SERVE?
The primary objective of each seller is to understand the real needs of the buyer, in order to be in tune with the latter and offer him the right product. The only way to achieve this is to ask the interlocutor a series of questions , which obviously do not transform the interview into an interrogation, but which manage to get to the point: find the synthesis between the needs of those who sell and those who should buy . Here comes the difference between the two types of questions, open and closed, that are asked during the interview.
An example of a closed question could be: “Are you interested in this product?” , while the respective open question would be: “what characteristics should a product have that could interest you?”.
The difference is immediately obvious: it is clear that the first type of questions, asked at the beginning, does not create opportunities for interaction between the seller and the customer , and requires a peremptory answer that has a 50% chance of being negative and closing the our interview ahead of schedule.
It is always better to start with open questions, which give the customer the opportunity to express himself and understand his own needs and expectations, also giving the seller the opportunity to understand them better.
A good salesperson must understand that the moment of the interview must absolutely not become an “interrogation”, but a moment of:
- Active listening for the seller, who must treasure the answers of any buyer.
- Reflection for the customerwho, by answering open-ended questions, can better understand himself what he really needs, and make it better understood by the seller.
In practice, the open questions have the main purpose of accompanying the seller and the customer towards a gradual and mutual understanding of the needs (explicit or not) of the latter .
But now let’s see how to best conduct the initial moment of dialogue with the customer.
OPEN QUESTIONS: HOW TO DO THEM?
The main objective of the seller, during the initial interview, is to accumulate important information about the customer, which allows him to understand how to meet him and propose the right product. The tools that the seller has at his disposal are open questions which must be :
- Target a certain topic (even if taken away).
These are the questions that always require a thoughtful answer , which makes the customer reflect, and must be asked at the right time : here the sensitivity of the seller comes into play, who must also be a bit of a psychologist, and try to identify not only the needs evident of the client, but also latent ones.
Open-ended questions are also used for this: not only to understand what the customer needs, but also what he might need , and which he may not even realize.
That’s why the questions that are asked to potential buyers remain an asset that only the best sellers know how to use to the fullest!
ARE OPEN QUESTIONS AND CLOSED QUESTIONS EXCLUDED?
Absolutely not. On the contrary, open questions and closed questions contribute to achieving the result, and are both part of a good strategy for conducting the initial interview with the client:
- We always start with open questions: the closed ones are too specific and peremptory and, in addition to not allowing us to continue a broad and constructive discussion, they can make our client unwell.
- We always start from general topics, to then guide the interview towards the more specific ones, directing the potential client towards his particular situation, and the way in which we can meet him, but without too much haste.
- Once we understand the actual and specific needs of the customer, but only then, we can ask the so-called closed questions, which are much more limited and functional to closing the sale.
As a general rule, closed questions should always be asked at the end, because they minimize the dialogue , and would risk ending our interview earlier than expected. This does not mean that we must only use open questions: closed ones are essential to obtain clarifications and confirmations , but they should not be done immediately.