I needed a new laptop recently and did the usual rounds of stores. I ended up buying a HP from Staples, along with various accessories, and here's why: the sales rep asked good questions that broadened my thinking and gave me confidence that he knew his stuff, and that he was thinking ahead not just to making this sale but to winning my loyalty as a long-term customer.
I'd been around all the shops, and had in my mind settled on one at Sam's, costing around $1000. On the way to Sam's, I stopped at Staples for one final look, hoping they'd have finally gotten in some new Toshibas (my long-time laptop of choice). No luck on that front, but luck was with me as Evan stopped by to "answer any questions" as I was looking at one of the units.
Interestingly, instead of going for the sure thing and telling me the unit I was looking at was the usual "great choice," he began asking questions. (Whether the questions were Evans' own, or the result of Staples training I have no idea. But they were good.)
His first questions related to how familiar I was with computers in general. I passed on that score, so then he asked what I'd be using it for. Since I don't play online games, he said, then I didn't need one with an I-5 chip.
In short, his questions expanded my thinking. (I was upgrading from Windows XP to 7 and didn't know what I was getting into, and his questions guided me by bringing out the diffferences as they related to my actual work.)
He asked about my printers and my security software --- a good way, of course, of expanding the potential sale, but prudent concerns all the same. My printers were fine, but my old security wouldn't jibe with Win7, so there was another sale.
All in all, his questions, drawn from his obvious expertise, built my confidence and trust in his various recommendations. That confidence made me more open to his further questions, and so on.
I wish I'd taken notes of the questions he used. Suffice to say, they went much beyond the kind of questions we more often run into, the questions that only sow distrust: "How much did you expect to pay?" and "Will you be paying by paper or plastic?"
As you know, in my books I focus on consultative selling and the use of the selling wedge, mostly in the context of making sales calls. on prospects My point here is that consultative sales questions can be equally useful when the prospect comes to you. Both involve selling face to face, just in diffferent contexts.