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Interview to Sell:

Many people walk into a sales situation expecting to try and sell their product to the other person. They are ready with answers on the perks of their product and how that product will help the person that they are trying to sell to. The problem with this is that it is completely focused on the product and ignores the actual person interested in buying. This is a recipe for a lot of rejection as the person being sold the product never has their actual needs or wants should be taken into account during the process. However, if you add one small step to your selling process,  the interview step, this problem goes away.  It turns the focus from “what” you are offering to “who” you are offering it to.   The interview is the key to making a sale rather than just wasting time making a sales pitch.

Have you ever felt this?  I had someone come over and demoed a vacuum at my house once.  I was impressed with the amount of dust etc that the vacuum picked up but i decided not to buy it simply because the salesman would not shut up long enough for me to ask the questions I had about it. I didn’t really care about the tons of data he gave me about the vacuum. I am not a brand girl when it comes to such things.  I wanted to know how heavy it was so that I could see if I could carry it up and down the three flights of stairs my home had.  After 30 minutes of trying to ask my question and being cut off and drowned in information I didn’t care about, I knew this guy was not going to get my money.  He certainly knew his product and it’s features but because he didn’t take time to listen to me, he lost the sale.  

The “interview” is a series of questions that we need to ask the person we are seeking to sell to, in order to learn and understand their wants and needs first before we try to sell them something.  This lets us know the reasons that they might want the product or the problems that they are facing and looking for a solution to. This process allows us to tailor the image of our product to address their wants and needs. Instead of taking time to tell the buyer all the features of the product that they don’t actually care about, we can spend more time on those features of the product that actually address what the buyer’s needs. This is critical in making that sale, in showing the buyer that the product is exactly what they are looking for. Doing this interview in a method that gives us real information and doesn’t feel fake or like an interrogation can be the hard part though.

First, remember is to always ask open-ended questions instead of close-ended ones. Close-ended questions are those that can be answered with a yes or no answer. Open-ended questions are those that require the person to put together a thought and convey that thought.  These questions engage the person in a dialogue with us rather than us just talking at them. When you get them into a dialogue like this, you remove them from the position of a passive buyer and into a participate in the process and that gets them invested in it as well. These are the questions that really open up what the person is looking for if we create the questions properly.  “What brings you in here today?” “How do you plan to use our vacuum?”

The key to creating useful open-ended questions is to think about it beforehand. You need to take a good look at your product and then follow these three steps:

Step #1: Identify – specific types of information that will help you identify the buyers wants and needs. This is a tough step and involves not only getting into the mindset of the buyer to try and perceive what problems they may face, but then to think about ways to ask your questions to uncover those problems. Instead of asking “Is the interface to your current operating program difficult to use?” it would be better to ask “What aspects of your current operating program are you least favorite?” This change in how you phrase the question gets them to think about specifics that they want improvement on, and you get to tailor your discussion of your product to those specifics.

Step #2:  List – List out the features of your product that you believe can fill a want, need or problem of your customers. This will help you once you have gone through the interview to display the benefits of your product to your buyer while addressing the needs that you have uncovered

Step #3: Write – Actually sit down and write out questions that you want to ask. Not only the concepts that you want to address, but the actual wording and timing of the question. The key to wisdom is in asking the right questions at the right time.  This way, when you are in the interview process you will have an arsenal of open-ended questions at your fingertips that will allow you to uncover the needs that your buyer is looking to your products to fill.

Once you have uncovered the problems, wants, and needs of your buyer, the rest of the process is simple. It becomes a matter of addressing how your product will fulfill those wants and needs for the customer. If you can uncover the real reasons that they are looking for the product in the first place and you can fulfill those reasons with your product, then the sale is in the bag.

What sort of questions are you going to craft to get to the real core of what your prospects are looking for?


Life’s Too Short to Have Bad Days!  What are YOU doing to make today FANTASTIC?