Business Magazine

Twenty Questions!

Posted on the 10 August 2012 by Billcookonline @billcookonline

Twenty Questions is a spoken parlor game which encourages deductive reasoning and creativity. It originated in the United States and escalated in popularity during the late 1940s when it became the format for a successful weekly radio quiz program. You have probably played it at one time or another over the years.  I played it as a child and I recall playing it with my kids when they were growing up.  The game brings to light one of the keys to successful selling.

Have you ever wondered why some people are successful in sales and others are not?  Many people assume that successful sales people have a “winning personality” or that they are just natural “born” sales people.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  A better question to ask is: “How are some people successful in sales and others not”?  The answer lies mostly in the salesperson’s ability to ask questions.  Obviously, there are other important areas like knowledge, skills, attitude and organization, but more on that later.

Now, asking twenty questions of a prospect or customer is NOT the way to be successful!  Nobody wants to be bombarded with questions, any more than we want to hear a long list of features and benefits that we don’t really care about.  A successful sales person develops a questioning strategy tailored to the needs of the prospect or customer.  The number of questions used, the types of questions asked (open-ended or closed), the manner in which you will ask them, and the timing of the questions are all considered during pre-call planning and then modified as needed during the call.  This is the art of selling—having a plan but being able to adjust as needed on the fly!

Let’s play a modified version of the game Twenty Questions.  This set of questions will help you to analyze whether you currently have what it takes to be successful as a salesperson, regardless of the product or service that you are selling!   I play this game, which is really a self-assessment, with my sales people because it helps me to identify their training needs so that I can focus on the most important areas where they need help.

So, all you have to do is rate yourself in each area below, and be sure to answer the bonus question at the end very honestly—it’s the most important question of the entire twenty!

Sales Training Self-Assessment

Rate yourself on the following questions by writing a number between 1 and 10 after each one. A 10 is the highest score, indicating that you are really strong in that area, or that you strongly agree with the question.

Sales Planning and Organization

1. I am comfortable creating a territory business plan
2. I currently work my plan and revise it periodically
3. I know how to organize my time and resources to maximize selling time
4. I am able to make the required number of calls to be successful

Sales Skills

1. I understand our company’s sales process
2. I know how to move a customer through our process
3. I have a methodology that I use to be successful in sales
4. I know how to handle objections and have a process for handling them
5. I know how to listen well and to ask good questions
6. I know when to close, and never forget to do so

Sales Knowledge

1. I know our products and services, and can speak fluently about them
2. I know the customers we serve and the needs they have that we meet
3. I know the marketplace in my territory and generally
4. I know our company well and our unique value proposition
5. I know the competition in my area as well as related partners

Sales Attitude

1. I really enjoy what I do and am generally very enthusiastic
2. I get along with my peers and coworkers
3. I like my company and strongly believe in what we do
4. I enjoy the challenge of growing the business in my territory
5. I handle the inevitable service issues in a positive manner

Bonus Question

My sales results are consistent with the scores I gave myself above

How did you do? More importantly, are your sales results the same as your score?  In other words, if you gave yourself a lot of high scores, then you should be hitting or exceeding your quota on a regular basis.  At the very least, this assessment should help you to identify areas of weakness that you can work on with your manager to improve your performance.

Thanks for playing our game, and good luck out there!

Bill Cook

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