Sometimes, life can be like Jeopardy. If you ask the right questions at just the right time, you may end up winning it all. Treating your clients like Alex Trebek and asking questions rather than blurting out your solutions can also be a winning strategy. If you ask them enough questions, they'll give you the answer that you want to hear. It takes minimal effort, and as the saying goes, "you never get in trouble for listening too much." The Sales Training Drivers team has pulled together some tips to help you teach your salespeople how to ask the questions that matter.

Prepare for the call or meeting so you know what questions you'll need to ask. No one ever won a game of Jeopardy with constant guessing. Always do your research on your client or prospect to ensure that you know exactly where you'll want the conversation to go. If the client is tight-lipped about their problems, you may need to ask some leading questions to get them to divulge what they really need. Begin with general questions and when they've given you enough of a breadcrumb trail, start digging into more specific and relevant items.

Ask questions about the person and the company they work for. Problems for companies don't happen in a vacuum; they affect everyone that works there, and each in their own way. Your job is to find out how specifically the problem is effecting your potential client. Is the problem causing them to work extra hours to pick up the slack? Is it causing them to take on more job responsibilities than is necessary? By asking the right questions, you can not only prove that your solution will help the company, but will also help this individual person. Your attentiveness will be remembered when it is time for your contact to make the purchase decision (a time when you usually aren't involved).

Develop active listening skills. This subject itself could be a blog topic, but let's focus just on face-to-face conversation for now. The first and foremost is to devote your entire attention to that person. That means that you shouldn't be checking your phone, reading your email, or zoning out while you wait for what you think is your turn to talk. A way to physically show that you're devoting your attention to that person is through eye contact. Look them in the eye when they're talking, and make sure to look at them when you talk to them, too. You don't want to look them in the eye for the entire time the two of you are talking (otherwise your questioning will start to feel like an interrogation session), but a good rule of thumb is to hold eye contact for several seconds at a time. Lastly, make sure that your questions are open-ended and relevant to what the person just said. The more that your client says, the more likely you'll know just how to respond.

Research your prospective client and the companies they work for and with. Be aware of the questions the client will want you to ask and you can ensure that you come to every meeting prepared to sell. By engaging them on a more personal level, you can almost guarantee that this person will talk up your product or service when the time comes for a decision. And by developing active listening skills, you can customize your typical solutions to problems in a way that makes them much more likely to buy. So, just like Jeopardy, sometimes the best answer is in the form of a question.