Probing

When Performance Matters

Probing

Once you have mastered the techniques of effective communication you now need to utilise these communication techniques to obtain accurate and complete information to enable you to work effectively with your customers in providing solutions for them.

Probing

What is probing? Probing is questioning the customer in order to obtain specific information to solve problems effectively to answer questions and exploit selling opportunities.

Types of Questions

There are two types of questions to use. Open questions and closed questions.

Open Questions

An open question encourages the customer to give you a lot of information; you provide the customer with the opportunity to give you the information as he chooses. Key words for open questions are “who”, “what”, “when”, “why”, “where” and “how”.

Examples

•     What part of the country do you mainly travel?

•     When do you notice the problem most?

Closed Questions

You should use closed questions far less than open questions. Having said that, closed questions are useful in the following instances.

•     To clarify a certain point.

•     To redirect a wandering conversation.

•     When the customer volunteers very little information.

Controlling Skills

In order to allow yourself the time to use your probing effectively you must utilise good controlling skills. This will allow you to run the conversation. These skills are procedural statements, testing understand and summarising.

Procedural Statements

These are statements that are used at the start of a conversation which will tell the customer:

•     What you plan to do and why that is in the customer’s interest.

•     What you expect from them.

•     What you expect the outcome of the conversation to be.

Examples

“In order to ensure that we send you the correct product and the right quantity I would like to ask a few questions about what you intend to use the product for, and then we can arrange delivery.”

Testing Understanding

You must fully test your understanding of what has been said to you in order to be certain that you have completely grasped the facts. You should use expressions like:

“So what you mean is…”

“As I understand it…”

“The problem you have then is…”

Summarising

Summarising is an important skill which allows you to halt the conversation and ensure you are in fill agreement thus far. When working on the telephone summarising is critical, especially such things as numbers, times etc which can easily be misheard. You should use statements like:

“May I just summarise to make sure I have grasped it correctly”.

“Let me just read that back to make sure that I have it right”.

 

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