By Todd Brian Natenberg

" People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. But showing  how much you care includes showing how much you care about yourself." 

Questions, questions and more questions are the key to sales. Correct? 20 years ago that  was the case. But while probing is essential, powerful probing is what separates spectacular consultants from good salespeople. 

So what does it mean to powerfully probe? It means understanding why we probe and what we are trying to accomplish- and this is the kicker- in  as short an amount of time as possible.  So why do we probe? 

1. Uncover needs

2. Uncover hot buttons

3. Understand the buying process

4. Build alignments to tie back  (People like to do business with people they like and people LIKE them). 

Sounds like a lot of questions are required, doesn't it? Says who? Remember  that the reason we  probe is to get answers, not to ask questions. If the prospect reveals the information we want, that's all  that matters. If we "probe" for 15 minutes without asking a questions or just a couple, but uncover what's needed, that's what matters. So  drum roll please. 

1. Question #1

"What is the key to your success?" 

Why is this great? Why isn't it? What do people like  to talk about more than anything? Themselves  of course.  And  this question- when you let them answer- will  reveal everything: 

a. How you align yourself with this person. 

b. How they buy  (And no one every says they are the cheapest around). 

c.  Their overall personality 

2. "What is your biggest challenge from a (whatever industry you are  in) perspective?" (i.e.- What  is your biggest challenge from a sales training perspective?)

What does this do? 

a.  Shows whether they have a need and if so what that need is

b. Whether they want a solution

If they have no challenges, they have no needs.  If they have  no needs, they have no need for solutions. 

3.  "For me to earn your business, what is important to you in the area of (i.e. sales training, telecommunications, office equipment)?"

Important is a very powerful word.  When was the last time someone asked what was important to you? Think about it. Does  it get any more personal or real? 

4.  "Let me summarize what you said. What is  important to you is...., what the key to your success is...what your biggest challenge is...Is this a good understanding of what matters? Did I miss anything?"

Wow! Now that's what I call  listening versus hearing. When you listen well, good  things happen. When you listen great, great things happen.   I CHALLENGE you, what's your goal?