The truth about questions in apparel export sales
A few days back I got a present from a prospect out of the clear sky.
What present was that?
When I called him up on the phone one of the first sentences he said were:
"You only have the possibility to work with me if you can: A / B / or C."
He presented a detailed description of what he was looking for.
Nothing general - but extremely specific. Wow.
This was the first time happening.
I felt impressed.
This buyer was so incredibly clear and precise about what he needed.
And here's why.
He mentioned that he was not always a buyer - during his career, he used to work as a salesperson.
So that might be the reason why he understood so well that the most important thing a salesperson like to understand.
What is it really that the buyer needs?
Gladly he offered me this information on a silver plate.
Well, this is surely an exception.
Normally you don't get the solution that your prospect would accept as a solution like this.
Often you need to ask questions to get the information you need. To discover if you are the right fit for the prospect.
So, you need to understand the customer situation only then you can serve.
Discover their individual pains and understand their specific goals.
A solution that works fast to relieve pain and makes her/his trouble go away.
Without this knowledge how can you sell?
Therefore, asking the right questions helps.
It's helping you to help your prospect.
This builds the ground of how you and everything you do will be perceived.
Your intent is not to go out and sell somebody something – but to help and to find and solve problems.
So here's my question for you
Is it always true to say:
" Who asks leads."
What do you think?
Is this always true?
Ahm. I say, sort of.
But the type of questions matter.
They should be relevant ones.
Before we dive in...
I want to take it back to basics. And review what types of questions you have during your sales conversations.
Different types of questions:
- Motive and reason questions
- Urgency questions
- Validation questions
- Fact questions
There is a big difference between those types of questions. And it's because they have contrasting purposes and you ask them at certain points of time through the selling process.
I heard this all the time. Have you? It's this one piece of advice: "You need to ask your buyers questions."
However, today we're talking about one type of question that you need to know the answers to, BUT ...
should better NOT ASK.
And these are fact questions.
What are fact questions
Fact questions are hands down your bread and butter, the chili to your dinner, the milk to your latte... you get the point.
And here's why it's important
Fact questions are hard and fast indicator for your potential buyers whether they are resonating with your company and doing what you want them to do.
What you need to know from a potential customer
- How they basically work
- Their overall concept
- What kind of garments they sell
- Their main categories
- How many retailer stores the run
- What brands/own brands do they provide
- The price level they sell their garments
- The level of fashion
- In which areas/countries do they operate
- Their target customers
- Are they, retailers, with stores or do they sell only online
- Their company history and company story
- Financial situation
- Do they run offices in Asia or not
- Their corporate structure
- Current news and updates
- And more
What's really cool about fact questions is that are so easy and quick to get
Just do a little research.
Try to find out whatever you can.
We all know: Today it's easy peasy.
You can simply Google it. Plus, companies have extensive websites.
Your 5-minute research can give you a TON of insight.
The better you are prepared - the less you need to ask fact questions.
Now, I’m going to fill you in on a little secret, and here it is:
What can happen if you ask too many fact-questions?
Hear me out! This is important stuff to consider.
There’s no point in asking those questions, and here’s why:
- Yawn - Buyer might get bored. Because she/he knows the answers already. Told them a million times. This is no exciting exchange for them.
- Annoyed - Time is always short. It's taking the time that could have been spent with more productive matters from buyers' point of view. The buyer might think you don't seem to know much about them. Buyer: "They haven' spent a minute to get to know us."
- Embarrassed – Some questions the buyer might not be able to reply to. But might feel she/he should have known. Buyers' face blushing "Aw, ... wait... what's the total number of our stores currently again?!"
- Pressure - Who is asking is leading. If too many fact questions are "fired" this can cause tension and uneasiness.
I'm not a big fan of too many fact questions because they can create a school atmosphere.
Or seem like conducting an investigation.
Who likes to be questioned like this?
Questions are helpful when they point in the direction of a solution
When it's clear for the buyer that you ask this question to understand.
To help them to get closer to the transformation or goal they are working towards.
And most fact-question don't support this.
The other types of questions we talked about earlier like: the motive, reason, urgency, and validation questions are a little trickier.
This is where your questions really play a huge role in the selling journey.
These you definitely need to ask and can't figure out for yourself.
Or Google them.
Those you need to ask the buyer in a conversation.
More about those you'll read in a future post.
To sum up
Hopefully, this helps some of you as much as it has helped me with getting clearer in finding a path.
Hope you're inspired to take action now.
Nothing will improve until you execute.
Many of you (and I) need to challenge ourselves.
We are busy, but we may not be busy doing the right things.
Appreciate you and would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
Thanks so much, best of luck, and if you find this post useful, please spread the word.
Thanks for spending the time out of your day.
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thanks, talk soon
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