The Five Questions guaranteed to Improve Your Sales Skills.

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Sales Performance


Competing on price is easy. Well, competing on price is easy if you have the lowest price. In fact, even a computer can give details about their offer and then agree the lowest price. Look at Amazon for example, but what if you work for one of the thousands of companies that doesn’t compete on price? What if you have a high value offer and your competitors undercut you time after time? What if you feel the only way to get the deal is to slash the price? Well, there is one thing that differentiates the professional salespeople from the price computers. And that is their ability to uncover value.

Your goal, as professional salespeople, is not to bombard the customer with all the features the customer might be interested in and then negotiate on price. That is what price computers do. Your goal is to find the one thing that you know for sure your customer is definitely interested in. The one thing that adds value to the deal, and your goal is to encourage the customer not just to want it, but to come up with the idea that they want it themselves.

The secret to succeeding at this is biting your tongue, putting your pitch to one side and asking the following 5 golden questions that are guaranteed to improve your sales skills.

Zone in on the challenges

If you only have 5 questions, do not make “did you see the game last night” one of them. Instead, zone in on the challenges.


“what challenges are you facing in regards to X”

Get the customer talking about the issues they are facing. Start to understand how you can help.

Deep dive into the problem

At this point, you may think you know how to help. It may take every ounce of energy not to jump in with a solution. Hold fire.


“what specifically is the issue around X”

Keep drilling down to the root of the problem. Here you will find out about the time they are wasting or the hassle it is causing. It opens up things you would not have known and allows you to see the issue from the customer’s point of view.

Find out the impact

At this stage you often have a good idea of how you can help.

Maybe you can save them time, save them money, increase efficiencies or offer them peace of mind. You have a rational solution for their rational problem.

But people don’t just buy for rational reasons. They buy for emotional reasons as well.


“what is the impact of this issue?”

Find out how that problem impacts their world. How it impacts their business, their team, their customers or them personally.

Here you will find out about the stress they are feeling, the moaning staff they have to deal with and the customers they are losing. You uncover the real emotional problems they are experiencing.

Paint a picture

Every single thing you see in this world (including you), has been created twice: First in the mind and then in reality. Everything starts with an idea.


“what would be a good solution for you?”

Encouraging the client to paint a picture of a good solution does not only allow you to deeply understand what they are looking for; it also allows your customer to visualise it. Once they have visualised it, they have created it in their minds. They have taken the first step. They own the idea and so are far more likely to make it happen.

Encourage them to tell you how you can help

Once you have fully explored the issue and they have painted a picture of what they want then ask this final question:

“how can I help?”

This question leads to one of two outcomes:

1) They will know about your offer and how you can help and start telling you exactly how you can help them.
2) They will not know how you can help and say, “I don’t know, how can you help?” This then provides a perfect transition into the solution part of the sales process.

Example Scenario: A five-step guide to selling value.

Zone in on the challenges

You: “what challenges are you facing in regards to your sales training?”
Customer: “mmm, we are experiencing a few issues training our new hires”

Deep dive into the problem

You: “what specifically is the issue around new hires?”
Customer: “it’s really getting the new hires up to speed quickly as we don’t have the time to train them”

Find out the impact

You: “and what is the impact of that on your business/ team/ customers/ you?”
Customer: "well, it impacts:

My business: because it is taking over 3 months to get your salesperson up and running, with no new revenue generation.
My team: because they are covering the open territory and won’t stop complaining.
Me: because I am trying to manage all of this, as well as training the new hire and a creating peace on a demanding team.

Paint a picture

You: “OK so what would be a good solution for you?”
Customer: “what I need is a structure in place to ensure that all new hires get exactly the same training and they are and seeing great results within a few weeks of joining the company.”

Encourage them to tell you how you can help

You: “so how can I help?”
Customer: “well actually I have heard a bit about your graduate training programme… I think it may be good for my new hires, can you tell me a bit about it?
You: “certainly…

In summary, although it can be hard to continue to ask questions when you think you have a solution that is perfect for them, follow the process: bite your tongue and ask another question.

You have the wonderful opportunity to make a difference to people’s lives by selling value.

Drill down to both the rational root and the emotional heart of the problem. Understand what the ideal solution looks like for them, and ask them how you can help.

Through doing so you will improve your sales skills, uncover greater value, create better solutions and serve happier customers… and all at the premium prices your offer deserves.

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