Questions That Sell by Paul Cherry – A Book Review

In the world of sales the gift of the gab is often celebrated, but the art of asking is woefully underestimated. If you've ever found yourself in a sales meeting, pitching your heart out only to be met with a lukewarm response, you might be missing a crucial piece of the puzzle: asking the right questions.

In his book, Paul Cherry dubs great sales questions as “truth-seeking missiles.” A rather poetic way to put it, wouldn't you agree? But what makes these questions so hot and others rot. Let's delve into the six types of questions that can transform your sales approach from a monologue to a meaningful dialogue.

1. Educational Questions: The Icebreakers

In a world where prospects are bombarded with sales pitches, standing out is a Herculean task. Enter educational questions—your secret weapon to engage prospects in a meaningful way. These questions are designed to enlarge your customer's knowledge base and make you look like a consultative seller rather than a pushy salesperson.

Template: “I read recently in an article from [Source] that [Insight]. Tell me, how does that compare with what you are seeing?”

Example: “A recent article in the Wall Street Journal suggests that 75 percent of technology companies use foreign developers. How do you manage language barriers and laws governing foreign workers with your IT staff?”

When to Use:

  • As a voicemail teaser
  • At the beginning of a meeting as an icebreaker
  • To rejuvenate a stalled sales conversation
  • To breathe new life into an existing customer relationship

Remember, moderation is key. One educational question per meeting should suffice.

2. Lock-On Questions: The Deep Divers

Lock-on questions are your go-to for digging deeper into the issues your prospects face. These questions build on what the prospect has already told you, allowing you to extend the conversation.

Example: If your prospect says, “We've had several problems with our current vendor,” you might follow up with, “Can you share some of the specific problems you've been having?”

When to Use:

  • When you have good rapport with the prospect
  • When you genuinely want to understand their needs

3. Impact Questions: The Reality Checks

Impact questions help your prospects focus on the gravity of their problems. These questions are not for the faint-hearted; they require your prospect to confront the issue head-on.

Example: “What do you think the impact on your company will be if you decide to do nothing?”

When to Use:

  • When the prospect has articulated a problem
  • When you want the prospect to focus on the consequences

4. Expansion Questions: The Insight Generators

Expansion questions build on what your prospect has already shared, providing greater insight into their needs.

Example: Instead of asking, “Who is the decision maker?”, ask, “Walk me through your company’s decision-making process.”

When to Use:

  • When you want to gain a deeper understanding of the prospect's needs
  • When you want to guide the conversation to a more meaningful place

5. Comparison Questions: The Clarifiers

Comparison questions help you gain clarity on your prospect's priorities by allowing them to compare one thing to another.

Example: Instead of asking, “What are your goals?”, ask, “Share with me what you hope to accomplish in the next 12 months compared to where you were one year ago.”

When to Use:

  • When you want to understand the prospect's priorities
  • When you want to stimulate dialogue about the industry, competitors, or alternative solutions


6. Vision Questions: The Dream Weavers

Vision questions invite your prospect to see what they stand to gain by doing business with you. These questions often contain the word “if” and are designed to help your prospect envision a brighter future.

Example: “If we could eliminate that problem you have—the one costing you £2 million per year—what would it mean to you and your organisation?”

When to Use:

  • When you want your prospect to focus on the benefits of your solution
  • When you want to understand their implicit needs, such as the desire for success, independence, or recognition

It's a Wrap: The Right Questions Lead to the Right Results

Mastering the art of asking questions in sales is akin to having a Swiss Army knife in a wilderness survival scenario. It equips you with the tools you need to navigate complex sales landscapes, build genuine relationships, and, ultimately, close deals that are beneficial for both parties involved.

So, before you find yourself in a sales meeting, remember to learn your “truth-seeking missiles” After all, the answers you get are only as good as the questions you ask. Questions that Sell by Paul Cherry is the book that will help your sales conversations become sales conversions.

Happy selling!

Sarah x

P.S. Please note this review is a broad view of a fab book. You will need to buy the book and apply the wisdom in order to get the very best results. Blogging can do many things, but this post is not enough to change your sales conversations. But it is enough for you to determine that you need Questions That Sell.


Sarah & Kevin Arrow

Sarah and Kevin Arrow have been in the thick of the online marketing world since 2006, and they're buzzing to share their know-how right here with you! If you're keen to get noticed, they're the experts you'll want to talk to. Why not schedule a call or send them a quick message? They're all ears and can't wait to hear from you!

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