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The art of selling - Building rapport

Updated on April 19, 2010

Selling Tips - Questions

In a previous Hub I explained the benefits and importance of building a relationship with clients/customers. Not using scripts but having conversations with these people. Not trying to sell the client what you want to sell them but what they need.

Find out what they want and give it to them!

But how? The first element of this is make sure the client or customer will have a conversation with you. If its the first time you are speaking to them, on the phone or face to face, you have only about 30 seconds to make an impact, so give them a reason to keep talking to you. You, of course, will need to let them know the basics - your names, what company you work for etc, but after that you need to make the conversation mean something to them - a valid business reason (VBR)/ or opening benefit. Ideally you will know something about them and their needs/company etc. which means you can open up the conversation easily; for example

"Hello, my name ...., from..... Your colleague Dave has told me your the best person to talk to about the problems you have been having with..."

Of course you will not have this kind of information to you. So use what you do know. Someone in finance will want to save money, an IT manager is more likely to talk about infrastructure, a normal guy walks into your mobile phone shop he will be interested in mobile phones you get the idea.

The next element is to let them talk. How can they tell you what they want if you do all the talking. So ask a question and SHUT UP!

What types of questions work best? You want the client/customer to talk as much as possible so don't give them the option of just saying yes or no. At the start of the conversation avoid 'closed questions' eg. Can you... Would/could/should you... etc. Instead use 'open questions' - Who, What, Where, When, Why and How.

Asking a customer in a mobile phone shop "Are you looking to buy a phone" gets the answer yes or no - and no does not help! Assume they are buying a phone - "what kind of phone are you looking to buy?" The customer will tell you if your assumption is wrong and allows the customer to open up.

Or, asking a finance director "Would you reduce costs if you could" is pointless so try asking "how would you reduce costs?" It forced the client to start thinking and begin a conversation with you.

This also allows the client/customer to talk about themselves; most people prefer to talk about themselves than anything else!

Once you have got the conversation rolling other types of questions can start to be used. 'Alternative' questions push the customer into making the decisions you want them to make - "would you rather purchase the Ericcson or the Nokia?" If the customer answers the question not only are they telling you what they want but they have agreed in their own mind that they are buying a phone!

Also, hypothetical questions can be very useful - "in an ideal world how would you reduce costs?" This starts the client thinking positively about the problems and they begin to realise there is a solution!


When you have found out the all the information you can it is time to bring back the closed questions, asking them when you already know the answers allows them to become more positive that the solution/product you suggest is the correct one - "You want a phone with a camera?...yes. You would prefer a Nokia?...yes. You would like 100 free texts a month?... yes. Let me suggest this phone..."

I realise that this makes selling seem easy and it can in reality be a lot harder than this but if you have the right technique not only will you make more sales but you will enjoy the process more.


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    • ramkkasturi profile image

      ramkkasturi 7 years ago from India

      Well done on Important area of marketing. Welcome