Sharks hunt for prey by finding movement in the water or blood. In today's economy you can often find people mistakenly adopt a "shark" sales mentality. They feel they need to circle out there and surround customers by getting to them first. First smell of blood in the water and they go for it.
You can see this in the way traditional sales is set up for questioning. Think back to the last three sales calls you either gave or received. If you are like most of our clients, they describe an "awkward period" where questions were volleyed out left and right as the sales person tried to make a connection and to find out a need they could solve. During this process both parties sit back and warily circle each other. Much like the shark in the water.
It doesn't need to be that way. There is a way to sell and service clients that doesn't require the leery circling of each other. There is a way to become a trusted partner. It requires a different way of thinking, listening, and speaking though. You can't be transactional and just pound with questions. The prospect knows where you are going with this and they don't appreciate being the worm on the hook to lure the shark. Oh, wait, to them you are the shark!
There is another bad point to the pounding of questions- it has been proven that when clients become confused or upset, they choose to stay "status quo." That means even though you may have a better deal they will stay with their present deal or pain because it seems easier to them.
Your job is not to sell. Your job is to help them make a choice that will propel their company forward. This means you need to know how to build rapport, threadline your questions and facts, and focus the energy in the room by excavating in a whole new way.
Try this, write out the questions you usually ask clients. Then play Devil's Advocate. Change the product or service you are selling and then ask the questions out loud to yourself. Do they make you feel cornered, pressured, or dumb? Or do they focus on driving the customer to your solution versus digging to find out what their problem is? If so, you are asking attack "solution" questions. You want to ask ProbeQs™ that draw people in, give them control, and bring out their wisdom and insight at the same time they enlighten them.
Think of it this way, imagine you go to see a doctor about a heart problem. Would you want a doctor that had a treatment in mind and they just asked you questions to draw you toward doing that solution or would you prefer a doctor that listened, and then asked probing questions to first determine if you even have a heart problem before they even talked to you about a solution? So if we prefer, the second scenario, why do companies keep equipping their sales people with sales strategies that teach them how to find how their solution can fit a client but not the deeper pain that could lead to a lasting partnership? We just got a call the other day from a client that reduced their sales cycle by 70% by flipping to the Outcome Focus® Approach to Sales Excavation™. The best part she said was that she never felt like she was selling; she was just helping the client.
TAKE ACTION: Try changing your list to make it more inviting, intriguing and more centered on the clients problem, not your solution.
Author: Anne Warfield
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