Sales And The Art of Asking Questions

Sales Insights | March 24, 2016

Why the ability to ask questions makes a great SDR

Dionne Mischler runs a sales training consultancy in Orange County, California. One thing she does boost the confidence of new sales people is to show them that the sale is not actually about them.

“If you have a cure for cancer, and your friend had cancer, wouldn’t you give them that information?” she says. “We’re helping these people!”

So the sale is not about the salesperson. “It’s about the customer on the other end of the phone,” says Mischler. “How do you talk in a such a way that you put the other person first?” One way to put the customer first is simply by asking questions.

Asking questions

What makes a good SDR? According to Mischler, it’s lack of fear and the ability to ask questions. A good AE does the same thing, but with a higher level of business acumen.

One exercise Mischler leads all new SDRs through, is to ask them to explain what their company does and the value of the product. “We’re not selling the product,” says Mischler. “We’re selling the value the product provides. In some companies they go, ‘People are asking me what time it is, and you’re telling them how you build the clock!’ ”

Then Mischler has the SDRs play the question game, where for the next 30 minutes you can only speak in the form of question. You must take the value proposition and turn it into a set of questions. Mischler also recommends reading The Asking Formula by John Baker to learn how to use the art of asking questions to get what you want.

Interview questions

Questions are also crucial in the process of hiring great salespeople. One thing Mischler looks for is initiative. “Are you a driven person? Great. What did you do to prepare for this interview today?”

She asks if the candidate is competitive and to give an example. “Tell me about your last sales job. Did you make your number? How did you make your number? What would your manager tell me?”

Mischler suggests reading Never Hire a Bad Salesperson Again. Kevin Gaither, VP of Sales at ZipRecruiter has compiled a list of questions from the book which help identify drive, competitiveness and the need for achievement. Mischler uses that questionnaire as a baseline in interviews.

The questions don’t end there. “I definitely want specific answers, “ she says “But I also want them to ask me questions.” Because, at the end of the day, it’s not about you.

Originally published at on March 24, 2016.