At The Brooks Group, we train sales professionals to use a 3-deep questioning strategy during conversations with prospects and customers.
The strategy (which we’ll outline below) allows a sales rep to uncover the wants and needs of the buyer—and even the unstated emotions that will ultimately impact purchasing decisions.
We’ve witnessed the strength of this questioning approach working with hundreds of clients over the past 40+ years. As it turns out, the approach is also backed by science!
Research Reveals: Asking Follow-Up Questions Makes You More Likeable
A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology analyzed getting-to‑know‑you conversations between platonic conversation partners, along with face‑to‑face speed‑dating conversations.
In both settings “people who ask more questions, particularly follow‑up questions, are better liked by their conversation partners.” (It even led to an increase in second dates among the speed‑daters.)
According to the study, the follow‑up questions are especially helpful because they show that the person asking the questions is listening sincerely.
Takeaway: If you want your sales reps to be perceived as more likeable and build deeper, genuine relationships with prospects and customers, coach them to follow the 3-deep questioning approach.
The Questioning Approach that Builds Connection and Increases Close Rate
The “P” in IMPACT Selling stands for “Probe” – a vitally important stage in the sales process. The Probe stage is the step that allows sales reps to focus on asking strategic questions, and uncovering answers that will lead them to recommending the most appropriate solution.
When done correctly, the questioning approach will allow the prospect to discover the solution to their challenge on their own, in their answers. This is very helpful because it takes pressure off the sales rep to convince the buyer they need the solution.
What the 3-Deep Questioning Approach Looks Like
Good sales probing doesn’t mean firing off a series of canned questions to get as much information out of the prospect as possible.
The 3-deep questioning strategy teaches reps to ask strategic, open-ended questions and then dig deeper by following-up on those answers with additional questions.
Using the 3-deep questioning strategy, a conversation with a prospect might go something like this:
Sales Rep: So, you’re having delivery issues with your current supplier. How does that translate to your business?
Prospect: It’s delaying our delivery to hospitals and ambulance drivers who need and expect the products on time.
Sales Rep: What impact does that have on your efficiencies and bottom line?
Prospect: We spend a lot of time, energy, and money negotiating the returns and tracking down deliveries. It’s cutting into our profit margin substantially, not to mention it creates a ripple that ultimately affects patients.
Sales Rep: What would it mean to your bottom line to have guaranteed quality products delivered on time?
Prospect: We really want to partner with a high-quality company that can deliver on time, every time. We spent over $5,000 last year alone on issues relating to returns.
This line of questioning goes beyond revealing information relating to the buyer’s wants, needs, budget, and decision-making process. It can help the buyer verbalize the value they perceive from a quality solution, which will ultimately help close a sale at the end of the buying process.
And as the study reveals, asking questions and digging in deep with follow-ups can strengthen the relationship between a sales rep and a buyer.
Effective probing is one of the most crucial components of the sales process, so you want your salespeople to be completely confident in their questioning strategy.
The IMPACT Selling® process helps sales reps consult with prospects and clients to gather all the necessary information before making a recommendation. This includes pre-call investigating and planning, asking effective probing questions, and digging deeper to uncover as much information as possible.
13 Winning Questions
Asking the right questions is key. Here are 13 that you should never leave out of a sales call.