Questionner et écouter le client EVP

Questioning and listening to the client: a successful business relation

Even though we ask ourselves questions every minute of every day, it can be difficult when meeting with a client to pinpoint which questions are most relevant and formulate them the right way. A vital part of any sales meeting is knowing how to ask questions and listen to the client for the answers you need, as efficiently as possible.

If I were to tell you that the Simonelli Appia II has three high-pressure groups, that the powerful wand makes quality microfoam, and that I recommend RW tampers, what does that tell you? If you’ve never used an espresso machine, likely not much.

Be prepared to serve as a salesperson-guide. Adapt to your client and focus your explanations on the added value of your products or services. This steers you clear of questions that require the kind of detailed answers that make you the centre of the conversation. Remember: your contact should be doing two or three times as much talking as you. You should also avoid leading questions. Why not buy it today? or You’ve never tried/heard of it? are some examples of ways you can kill a sale.

Instead, try questions like Tell me about your project/your decision-making process. Using open-ended questions with action verbs (e.g. describe, tell me, explain) is the basis for a successful conversation. These kinds of questions tell you more about your client, and let you clearly define their unknown needs.

It’s also crucial that you ask clarification questions in addition to those you’ve prepared beforehand. Get to know your client’s problems and daily life, and be attentive to their answers. This will strengthen the  relationship of trust between you—a key part of any business relationship.

trust-client-relationship EVP

Four qualities that are key to winning your client’s trust

Trust is the basis of a client relationship and the biggest factor in determining whether you’ll make the sale. You must show that developing this trust is important to you from the start, and make it a part of absolutely every exchange with the client. Building trust is also an essential part of making a good impression—a topic covered in our last newsletter.

There are four qualities that are key to winning your client’s trust: know-how, enthusiasm, interest and honesty. They are all interrelated. Picture four pillars supporting a roof: if we take away or damage any one of these pillars, the house collapses. Imagine crossing one of these qualities off the list—notice how something doesn’t seem quite right?

Clients see these four qualities in your actions, not your words. Would a salesperson who says “You can trust me” seem genuinely trustworthy to you? You likely won’t convince your client of your skills by telling them that you’re the best person for the job out of the lot. You need to prove yourself to be a competent salesperson through actions—every single time you communicate with the client. Your attitude and choice of words are extremely important in building the client’s trust in you.

How hard you’re willing to work to strengthen each pillar will determine whether you win the client’s trust. Work on these pillars individually, but aim to create one supporting structure. Be prepared to serve as a salesperson-guide.


How to Clearly Define Client Needs: Preparing for a Meeting

Prepare, prepare, prepare! Preparation is crucial to every step of sales and affects how well you’re able to define your client’s needs.  Be prepared to serve as a salesperson-guide.

There are two categories of client needs that can be identified: known needs and unperceived needs. The first are easy to establish through simple questions and short answers. These are needs the client is already aware of and can often be identified before the meeting.

Here’s an example in a retail context: a customer goes to a store to buy a coffee machine.

  • What kind of machine does the customer need?
  • What does the customer need to be able to use the machine effectively?
  • Where will the customer be using the machine?

You can even adapt these questions for your next meeting to identify the client’s known needs.

The second category refers to needs that the client hasn’t yet thought of. These needs can be established by asking questions that will make them think. Prepared beforehand, these questions are more open-ended and will help build trust because they show your high level of competency. Using the same example as before:

  • Why do you need a new machine?
  • What’s your definition of a good coffee?
  • What are your concerns with respect to maintaining the machine?

You might think it seems obvious that you should ask these questions. However, 80% of salespeople only address known needs! What does this mean for the customer? If all salespeople are selling the same product, price becomes the main decision-making criteria since there’s no differentiation.

However, if you’re able to get the customer thinking about needs they weren’t aware of, you set yourself apart from the crowd. The client will then be more inclined to buy the product from you.

How can you best define client needs in your industry?


Professional sales and customer service: the evp blog

École de la vente professionnelle (EVP) offers personalized training in sales and customer service. For over 25 years, we have been helping companies increase sales, improve the client experience and boost employee motivation and productivity.

We’re very excited to announce a new project that has been in the works for the past few months: our professional sales blog!
In each post, we’ll take an in-depth look at an aspect of sales and customer service, such as non-verbal communication, first impressions, prospecting, etc. All important subjects for your business, these tips can help you increase sales and enhance your customer service.

Every month, you’ll receive a link to the blog article via our newsletter. Subscribe now to stay up on the latest news, EVP promotions, and sales tips from our team. Our first newsletter is coming out soon and will explore how to identify client needs.

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On behalf of the whole team, happy reading!