How can I frame better questions in sales meetings?

Note: This is sample content from Bona Fide Selling–an online workshop that helps introverted freelancers sell better without sacrificing their introversion.

I get emails from introverts about how uncomfortable they feel doing all the talking in sales meetings. Or they feel like they’re not aggressive enough.

Have you felt that way about sales meetings before?

Fellow introvert, I have good news for you.

Sales meeting are question oriented meetings, where you do all the asking, and your prospect does all the talking.

This fits us introverts perfectly. Many of us don’t like doing all the talking in conversations. Yet, we’re inquisitive enough that we love asking great questions.

What you ask isn’t always what people hear

Have you ever asked a question and almost got your head bit off?

Ha! It happens between friends, couples, and family all the time. People get defensive or read into what they think you’re implying or hidden reasons for the question.

This can work for you or against you in sales meetings. You get to choose.

What you ask isn't always what people hear. Click To Tweet

To conquer sales meetings as an introvert, learn to frame your questions so that they simultaneously sell value.

This skill is a key asset for introverts when selling.

You can develop this skill by categorizing your sales questions into two groups:

  1. Value-based questions.
  2. Technical questions.

Let’s discuss how you can frame these two types of question for better selling.

How to frame value-based questions

Value-based questions help you identify the true goals your prospects have.

Your aim is to gather enough information that helps you understand the before and after they’re looking to have.

Get a clear picture of what their day looks like today, and what they expect their day to look like after completing the project (you know, once their problem is solved).

With value-based questions, you discover what matters most to your prospects.

Frame value based questions to focus on results your prospects are trying to have.

An example of a better-framed value based question

A common question freelancers and consultants ask is:

“What’s your budget for this project?”

That’s one of the WORST questions you could ask in a sales meeting.

What prospects hear when you ask a question like this is “How much money can you spend on me?”.

Not an appealing or motivating question by any means. It actually works against your selling!

I’ll share how I framed the question 100 times better in my sales meetings (every business is different so you might frame it differently).

Since my clients were corporate companies, I knew that saving time and making money mattered to them… like A LOT.

So I framed the question accordingly and in two variations.

Variation #1 – “How much time are you expecting to save once this solution is implemented?”

Variation #2“Once we implement this solution, what kind of revenue are you expecting to have?”

Did you see what I did there?

The questions are framed to help a prospect picture specific results. They begin to feel the effects of not having this problem in their life.

“What’s your budget for this project?” is one of the worst questions in sales meetings. Click To Tweet

To be more specific:

The first variation helps a prospect imagine having more time after hiring me. But it simultaneously helps me identify a measurable goal/result they’re looking to achieve.

The second variation helps a prospect imagine making money by hiring me. Simultaneously, their answer tells me how much the project is worth to them.

In both questions, I’m communicating value. What my prospects hear is “You’re not spending your money when you hire me, you’re investing it”.

Quick note on pricing

Value-based questions play an important role when it’s time for you to price a project or service.

The answers to these questions are what you’ll use to justify your price later on–but that’s another lesson in itself 😉

How to frame technical questions

If value-based questions help you understand the before and after your prospect is looking for, then technical questions equip you with details on how to make that happen.

Technical details help you take your prospect from Point A to Point B.

Between Point A and Point B is where your project, your work, and craft are done.

So, how do you frame technical questions so that they simultaneously sell value?

The loop for technical questions

Let me share a loop that’s helped me sell value over and over when asking technical questions:

  1. When you ask a technical question, steer away from open-ended questions. Learn to ask by giving options.
  2. After your prospect chooses an option, then agree or recommend another option. Justify your feedback by giving a reason or example that makes sense to them.
  3. Lastly, confirm their decision.

This loop helps you guide your prospects into making the best decisions.

The easier you make the decision process for them, the more valuable you become–it’s what we experts do.

Example of the loop in action

Let’s say you’re a photographer who specialized in senior pictures.

A common technical question might be “Where would you like to take your pictures?”

Let’s frame this question better.

Instead of asking the question in an open-ended format, let’s give options:

“Would you like to have your pictures taken indoors or outdoors?”

By framing the question with options, you’re doing the hard work for your prospect, which makes it easier for them to make a decision.

Let’s say the senior chooses outdoor pictures.

You can disagree because of the weather (or whatever reason) or you can agree and suggest a location that’s fit for the season.

“Perfect. A great place for autumn season pictures is the Seven Bridges trails. The colors during this time of year are radiant. Every student I’ve taken pictures of there have been super content with them. I can show you some examples if you’d like.”

(Seven Bridges is a real place in Milwaukee–great for hiking in Fall!)

After showing them examples from past clients, make sure to confirm their decision.

“So, would you like your pictures taken at the Seven Bridges trails?”

If the prospect agrees, then move onto the next technical question. Otherwise, guide them into a better decision that fit their needs and wants.

Perfecting Sales Meetings

Framing better questions is a skill you can develop over time.

With time, you’ll develop a baseline of questions that help lead a sales meeting.

No, you won’t have to do all the talking (if you are, stop that!). And you won’t have to be pushy or aggressive either.

You’ll lead by framing better questions that help you sell.

That’s how we introverts master sales meetings and stay true to our nature.

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