Using THIS Four-Letter Word Can Help You Get More Sales

by | Sales

Improve Your SalesDo you remember the last time you went to a dealership to buy a car? Over the years, my experience never varies.   I pull up at the dealership, and a sales person literally runs over to my car and tackles me before I can even get out of the front door.   The sales person’s first question?   You guessed it:   “What would it take to have you drive home in this new car today?”

In sales, we call that type of question a “closing question.” Any good sales person (or any good attorney for that matter!) will tell you that you shouldn’t ask a closing question until you are sure that the answer will be “Yes!” And, to get to a “yes” answer to the question of whether your client wants to buy whatever you are selling, you need to first determine what that client needs and wants.

I once heard a statistic that less than 20% of all sales people actually take the time to ask questions of their prospects before asking for the sale – before asking that closing question.  So, if you are in sales, keep reading.   Today, we’ll share with you a simple formula for asking great questions that will put you in the 20% of sales people who take the time to understand their prospect’s needs and wants as a part of the sales process.

That formula is a four-letter word:   GRCO.

(OK, so it’s not really a word, but actually an acronym, but it’s a terrific mnemonic aide to help you remember this  formula for asking questions.)

Let’s set the context for a typical sales call or meeting.   You would first build some rapport and trust with your prospect. This might include a warm welcome, some opening questions about them or their business, good eye contact, and other such techniques to establish a productive relationship at the beginning of a sales engagement.   Once you have established some trust, your next step is to ask the GRCO questions.   Let’s take them one at a time:

G stands for “Goal” Questions. When talking with your client, start by asking them some questions about what matters most to them.  What are they trying to accomplish?  What are the important measures for the business this year?  What will make them consider the year a success?   What do they personally want to accomplish in X time?  Goal questions allow your client to talk about their envisioned future, about what they really need and want, and allow you to laser-focus on what is most important to them.

R stands for “Rewards” Questions. Now that you know the goals, ask your prospect questions that tell you more about what is in it for them when they achieve those goals.  Good questions to ask include, “What is the benefit of achieving that goal?” or “What will be different when you achieve X?”  Rewards questions give you a sense of the value of the goals, which can often tell you a lot about how much the client may need your help to meet that goal.

C stands for “Consequences” Questions. These are the reverse of rewards questions.  What will happen if X is not reached?  If the client/business can’t achieve whatever the goal is, how will that impact the business?  What is the downside of not achieving the goal?  Many people say that most sales happen in order to avoid a problem, rather than in order to achieve a particular target.   Understanding the consequences for your client is critical to your ability to then map your solution to their needs.

Last, O stands for “Obstacles” Questions. What would keep the client/business from achieving the goal?  What is standing in the way of success?    What challenges are they running into?   These questions are very powerful tools in your sales arsenal, since they often point to problems that the client cannot overcome themselves.  That’s why they need you!  If you can identify internal challenges and obstacles, and whatever you are selling can help them get past those issues, then your ability to sell just got easier.

Armed with the answers to these important GRCO questions, you are now ready to show how your product or service is perfectly positioned to help the client achieve the goals, overcome the obstacles, achieve the rewards and avoid the consequences related to that goal. The next time you walk into a sales call, take a minute to write the acronym GRCO at the top of your note pad.   If needed, draft some GRCO questions in advance so that you can use them with your prospect.   Then methodically ask these four types of questions and let the client tell you exactly what they need to be successful.   If your solution aligns to the GRCO answers, you are then ready to ask your closing question – and get a “Yes” response.

Good luck!   Let me know how it works for you – I’m always interested in hearing about your experiences.

Jeri Quinn

Jeri Quinn from Driving Improved Results is an executive coach, management consultant, speaker and author who focuses on communication in her work with executives and companies. She is the author of The Customer Loyalty Playbook, 12 Game Strategies to Drive Improved Results in Your Business. With more than 40 years as a serial entrepreneur.

Quinn has worked with executives and teams in over 40 industries, spoken at major business expos including New York City’s Javits Center, facilitated business development and extraordinary customer service at institutions such as MoMA and AIG, and has partnered with New York City, The Kauffman Foundation, Citibank, Merrill Lynch, HSBC, and Signature Bank to educate their clients.


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