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Question Strategically

Most likely anyone reading this book will have heard about open questions and closed questions. Open questions call for elaborated answers while closed questions call for yes or no answers. In reality, the most important type of question is related not only to the form but also to the subject: what you are questioning, how you formulate your question and when you do it. I recommend a variety of formulations and to always place these questions strategically in the conversation.

I would like to invite you to go the extra mile by questioning artfully and appropriately.

Questioning is the best way to elicit relevant answers, but there are constraints that are not so easy to navigate. You are never sure that a customer will answer you sincerely or fully. To be able to maximize the value of the answers, your questions have to be (Table 5.4.C):

  • - Few—not too many to answer
  • - Easy to answer
  • - Pleasing to answer

In a nutshell, the more a customer is willing to answer, the better the answers you will receive. The more precise your question is, the better the potential answer.

- Focus on the customer’s decision making factors

At the right moment, lead the customer to reveal the five decision making motivational factors

- Be vague when you have time to listen

It is sometimes necessary to be vague in your questioning. This approach is more an invitation to express one’s self on a certain subject, rather than a question.

Table 5.4.C Discover questioning

Key Zone To Discover

Possible Questions

Brand

Existing knowledge about the brand

I am very curious to know how you perceive our brand.

Product

Product

characteristics

We have a large collection. Are there any clues being given by the customer that will allow me to more precisely propose the right product selection?

Price

Budget

For this important acquisition, maybe you already have a budget range in mind?

Place

Purchase location

Is it the first time you are visiting us? Have you already been to another of our boutiques, somewhere else in the world?

Time

Decision time frame

Do you have a specific target time frame for the decision?

Learn more about the customer’s situation:

Alice: “It’s such a good idea to celebrate your wedding anniversary in Paris... it’s so romantic.”

- Be sharp when you need a precise answer

On the opposite end of the spectrum, it is very useful to come forward with very precise questions in order to progress and be able to better understand your customer and their decision.

To learn if customers are also looking to choose a ring or a necklace:

Alice: “For this beautiful celebration jewelry, I understand that for the moment you have in mind a necklace. Maybe I can also propose beautiful rings for your consideration?”

- Be gentle because you are a nice person

The way you formulate the question determines the quality of the answer you will receive. Be gentle, be polite, be considerate. It’s about a pleasure. To be able to make the purchase your customer needs this sentiment to be taken into consideration, and not questioned or challenged. Keep this in mind especially because customers do not always know what they want and therefore could find it tiring to answer questions.

- Be soft—it’s about education and courtesy

To soften the questioning, you can use “pre” polite expressions or “post” polite ones.

Pre-polite expressions:

“If this is fine with you, may I know...?”

“I would be really grateful if you would tell me.?”

Post-polite expressions:

“I wonder when you will be able to take this decision—I would be so grateful if you could give me an estimated time frame.”

“‘I wonder how you feel about this necklace—I would really appreciate it if you would tell me your view.”

 
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