Sales Reps, Stop Asking Leading Questions [Roundup]

Jamie Shanks
Jamie Shanks

sales-reps-stop-leading-questions.jpgWelcome to your sales weekly roundup for March 24-31. This week we’ve got three key points to maximize the power of consultative selling, why women make better salespeople (they do?!) and the top character traits for different sales environments. Enjoy!

Sales Reps, Stop Asking Leading Questions

Founder of Edinger Consulting Scott Edinger writes for Harvard Business Review on maximizing the power of consultative selling. To do this, he says, salespeople must move “beyond a simplistic view of solution selling.” Stop interrogating your buyer and try and strike a more give-and-take conversational jive. Three ways to do this:

Avoid checklist-style questioning: Edinger has seen time and time again with inexperienced reps to senior partners at large consulting firms that relying only on questions never results in extracting the right information from prospects. Even if salespeople are tailoring their questions based on information about each buyer, going through a checklist isn’t enough. Instead, learn to create value through insight and perspective.

Avoid leading questions. Leading questions do nothing more than demonstrate your lack of intelligence, says Edinger. Further, buyers could become skeptical of your intentions. Skip the obvious and ask questions that show the buyer your desire to understand their pain points. “Try to go deeper than uncovering a list of problems to be solved: ask that the buyer hopes to achieve with your product or service, and why this a priority.”

Avoid negative conversational behaviors. In her article, “The Neurochemistry of Positive Conversations,” Judith Glaser shows how certain behaviours produce certain chemicals: positive ones are correlated with oxytocin, and negative ones with cortisol. Behaviours such as “being too aggressive, not listening, and going on about their offerings,” are negative, and “stimulating discussions with genuine curiosity, and painting a picture of mutual success,” are positive. Lessen the negative and focus on the positive to create a good conversational vibe and a collaborative dynamic with positive outcomes. 

30,469 Sales Calls Reveal Women Violate The Rules of Selling, Yet Still Close More Deals Than Men

Gong analyzed a ton of sales calls and found some interesting results. We’ll cut to the chase.

Women violate the rules of sales. Men, on average had 42:58 talk-to-listen ratio, while women averaged 46:54, talking 9% more often than men.

Men also interrupt their prospect an average of 4.2X per hour. Women? 6.3x per hour—about 50% more often.

Yet, women are closing more deals. Men had a 49% likelihood of moving opportunities to the next stage, while women had 54%.

Women on average also had an 11% higher closing rate than men.

Why could this be? The author of the article Chris Orlob posits that women might be better listeners. Silence, he says, is not the same thing as listening. Tonni Bennett, VP of Sales at Terminus explained that quantitative data isn’t enough—the quality of the call plays a huge role. She had two reps: a man and a woman. The male “rambled on in a way that derailed the conversation and hurt his credibility. He would often answer simple ‘yes/no questions’ with a long winded response that sparked more questions from the prospect.”

The woman also talked a lot too, but she made persuasive points or told a customer story rather than simply rambling.

Three Outstanding Personality Traits of Top Salespeople

Sales consultant and author Lee Bartlett analyzes top performers in three greatly different sales environments. He’s personally met each of these people, and anecdotally outlines the characteristics that lead them to success.

The Best Enterprise Salesperson He’s Ever Met

Deal characteristics: High-value, long and complex sales-cycle, enterprise-wide solutions.

His outstanding personality trait: Sales Emotional Quotient. “He was able to control his emotions, channel them to connect with his customers, and drive revenue.”

One thing he taught Lee: Your sensitivity is your greatest strength.

The Best Transactional Salesperson He’s Ever Met

Deal characteristics: Very high-value, high volume, short sales-cycle, C-Level pitches.

His outstanding personality trait: “Hard work, a clearly defined strategy, and flawless execution.”

One thing he taught Lee: Don’t do anything that doesn’t generate revenue. Always ask: What’s the ROI of your next action?

The Best Relationship Salesperson He’s Ever Met

Deal characteristics: High-value, no key product differentiators, short sales-cycle.

Her outstanding personality trait: “Resilience, tenacity and likeability.”

One thing she taught Lee: The importance of a quick recovery after a loss. The faster you recover from a deal loss, the faster you are on the next.


Follow Us

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Get our latest blogs direct to your inbox


Subscribe to receive more sales insights, analysis, and perspectives from Sales For Life.

The Ultimate Guide to Social Selling