If you are in sales, you've been told over and over again to simply listen to your customer. Listening is a talent and is critical to sales success. And while that is undeniably true, it's not always easy. It's also not always easy to get customers to share their challenges and priorities.

Today, Promotional Consultant Today shares these tips from sales expert Ken Kupchik on how to get your customer to open up so that you can close the deal.

1. Ask open-ended questions. Kupchik says to quit asking yes or no questions. This puts you in the role of order-taker rather than consultant. To dig deeper and get more insights, ask open-ended questions that encourage the customer to provide a detailed answer. As Kupchik says, "It's the difference between asking 'What problem do you currently have?' and 'Why do you think you are having this problem?'"

2. Don't just listen, actively listen. Kupchik says you need to show your customer that you are engaged in their world. How? By building trust and setting yourself apart from everyone else. He says that active listening allows you to do this. So don't just listen to the words of your customer, actively engage in what they say.

3. Ask follow-up questions. In order to understand your customer's true motivations, sometimes you need to dig deeper to understand their real needs. This can be uncovered by asking relevant follow-up questions. For example, if someone is telling you about a bad experience with a previous vendor, you can follow-up with "What would you have changed about the experience you had?"

4. Ask "Why?"… a lot. When talking to your customers about their challenges and pain points, as well as goals, do you ask "why?" You should—a lot—according to Kupchik. As he says, the "why" is oftentimes much more important than the "how," so don't be afraid to bring it up.

5. Ask for specifics. Asking for specifics helps you narrow down important details and can help you determine what the single biggest motivating factor for the customer might be. Instead of asking "What are the most important things you're looking for today?" try asking "What is the single most important thing you're looking for today." This forces the customer to prioritize and allows you to quickly know what to focus on the most.

6. Make your own points concisely. Most salespeople like to give sales presentations, but they can ramble on. As Kupchik says, you should never use eight words to explain something to a customer that can be explained in four words. Be concise and convey only the information that you need to get across, and then be quiet and let the customer respond.

Read PCT tomorrow for more tips on closing more sales.

Source: Ken Kupchik started the popular Sales Humor Facebook page and creates sales-related content for Spiro. He has more than a decade of sales and marketing experience, and his favorite sales movie is Glengarry Glen Ross.