Salespeople Suck At Asking Questions

One of the most bizarre modern day phenomenon’s in business today is the disconnect salespeople have from asking good questions.  Bizarre because the salesperson role is viewed as an investigator, a problem solver, a relationship builder, nomadic hunter and yet, salespeople genetically suck at asking questions.  Salespeople have developed this notion that the fastest path to sales success is to demonstrate competency and knowledge instead of the ability to understand.  As a result, they have lost their inquisitive minds that motivate good questions.  The more they can talk, the more wisdom they can reveal and after all, wisdom is what the client wants right?  The belief is how will customers know what we can do if we don’t tell them.

Case in point.  Over the last few days, I have interviewed five prospective salespeople for an open sales position our client has asked us to help them fill.  In five one- hour long conversations, I was asked maybe four questions total about the job.  There were no questions about the company because salespeople wanted to impress me with their knowledge of the company from all of the research they did.  There were no questions about what type of person the company was looking for nor how the company was going to determine best fit.  What was most amazing is the one salesperson who described their success as a “comprehensive ability to get people to uncover their real issues” didn’t ask a single question to me.  Not one question came to mind because they were so competent, so confident, so absolutely experienced that there was no cause for a questioning mindset.  The king of questions actually sucked at questioning.

So how did salespeople get here to this place of “tell” and lose a mindset of asking good questions?  Could it be that organizations put so much sales pressure on their salespeople to instantly perform and make their numbers that there is no time to listen and let a sale unfold?  Do organizational cultures display a lack of caring culture that has trickled down to their salespeople so their motive is to close the sale and get paid and to not care?  Perhaps salespeople define their value to the client as a solution provider and that takes telling the client what the best solution is.  Whatever the cause, the result is showing up the same.  Knowledge has replaced curiosity and understanding, and as such, the mindset of asking good questions is unfortunately going away.