I love my iPhone. Since it is a mobile device, I use it out of the house and office a lot. Hardly a week goes by without someone seeing me use it and asking me the wrong question:

“Is that a good phone?”

NOTE: This post is from 2010, when the iPhone hadn’t yet achieved such high market saturation…

Why is this the wrong question? Good is a matter of perspective. The iPhone is a great phone. For me. It may or may not be good for the person asking the question, and the question they asked won’t help them to figure that out.

I like the iPhone because I rarely use the phone, but often need a wireless modem, e-mail checking on-the-fly, navigation to find a new office while not driving (I use public transportation a lot), and I like that I can also use it in place of my iPod – one less thing to carry!

I have been told that many “power phone” users don’t like the iPhone. It is not well suited for them.

So how is all of this relevant subject matter for a sales blog? It gets back to the question people ask me when they see me using my iPhone:

“Is that a good phone?”

Weak salespeople love questions like that (for example, “is that thing you are selling good?”). It allows them to respond by showering the asker of the question with all of the reasons that the product (or service) in question is indeed good. It typically leads to a conversation in which information is pushed in one direction or the other rather than shared and collaborated on.

The better question for sales people to ask is, “What is it about that item that you like?”, or, “how well does that item meet your needs?”. When asked the “bad” question (is that good), then a better response from the sales person should be some variation on the theme of “well, it depends what you are looking for, or what problem you are trying to solve”.

These questions allows the salesperson to learn what is important to the prospect, which in turn sets up a more effective sales conversation. It invites the prospect to speak, and to define their needs. These are good sales questions. It is more than just a matter of being open-ended, which is important, it is about evoking the things that are important to the prospect about the product or service in question.

People (other than many engineers I know) don’t want to buy things because you bombard them with a bunch of features. People buy benefits. Asking your questions with this in mind will help lead you to the place where you can discuss benefits, specifically the benefits of your solution that are most important to your prospect. This is kind of conversation you want to have if making a sale, or any kind of informed decision is your goal.

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Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!

-David