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True, not everyone wants to be reminded of the difficult challenges that may be confronting them, but by filling this role, a consultative seller will further enhance their credibility and value to their customers. You'll be the person who attracts their attention and keeps their interest because of your ability to get them to focus on the important issues at hand that can't be overlooked.
For example, one of my client executives was concerned about the fact that only 19% of his sales force was making their quota. At the same time, he saw an opportunity to greatly improve their revenue position based on the fact that 76% of the remaining sales force was regularly within 20% of their quotas. Last November he told me that he wanted to make it a priority to find a way to get the sales people, who were within easy reach of their quotas, to achieve their sales goals.
Viewing myself as his sales consultant even though he had not yet purchased anything, I stayed in touch and prodded him - always to hear this was still a priority but that no action had been taken. His many business priorities had gotten in the way. I then posed one very well thought out question.
"Why was he avoiding taking action when he had already quantified the lost revenue this situation was causing?"
Based on my question - one that certainly got his attention and made, by his own admission, for some sleepless nights - he and I have established a plan that he's now following through on. Without the prodding and attention I displayed, the opportunity to find a way to increase revenue may have been lost while he continued spending money and time, and losing revenue, on the wrong sales strategy.
In my situation, the questions to ask were fairly obvious, but it's not always easy to know what the most effective and strategic questions to ask are. With this in mind, there are three thought-provoking questions any consultative salesperson can use that will cause their customers to hesitate and give a situation serious consideration:
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