“How are you?” “How was your weekend?” “Are you ready for a change in the weather?” “What do you think is going to happen in the game tonight?”
Are you tempted to move to the next blog? I know I am and I am the one writing it. However, how many times do you hear those questions in a day? How many times have you done it?
We all may think these kinds of questions allow us to build that critical rapport that is needed to be able to build the relationship prior to any successful sales transaction. However, like you, by just reading them, your prospect is quickly building stronger walls for you to get through. Some of those walls did not even exist when you arrived. You built them.
Crafting the right questions to build rapport can be tricky. To become a master in asking these types of questions takes work. However, the work is repaid tenfold, if done correctly.
Here are five important criteria to build the proper questions in this critical part of the whole sales process:
- Research. In today’s information overloaded society, there is no legitimate reason for you to not be prepared for the meeting. You should know all there is not only about the company, but also the individual that you are going to meet. You should only be asking questions to add, or, clarify from your research.
- Unique. I have written before about the fact that we all walk around in a comatose state to the point where we are not even listening, but answer a question because it is asked so often we have the automatic/robotic response.Perfect example; “How are you?” Automatic/robotic response: “Fine. You?”Unique questions are a little unexpected and catch the person unaware. By breaking the comatose state, you get them to not only listen, but you will get a more honest answer. The next time you talk to someone instead of: “How are you,” use a unique question such as: “It’s such a great day to be alive, isn’t it?” Don’t be surprised if you get “Fine. You?” I have. Then they snap out of it and you can actually see the change to the now and present.
- Appropriate. Make sure that the questions are not out-of-bounds or nosy. Keep them in the business context. You may get more personal when they do. You never bring up anything that may be inappropriate. I have seen more sales people lose complete trust by being inappropriate. They misread the appropriate signals as to when it would be appropriate to be more risqué.
- Goal. What is the goal of the meeting? What do you want to accomplish? After the small talk; 3-5 minutes, get down to some steering questions to what you want to discuss. If you want to sell software for his manufacturing plant, you may not want to ask questions about the accounting software. You laugh, I have had it happen to me.
- Personal. This is not the same as appropriate, but rather personal to the person. Instead of what do you do, would it not be more effective to ask: “I see by your LinkedIn profile that you recently got promoted to this position. How does it differ from the last one?” “I saw in the paper that your company just won a rather prestigious award. How were you able to beat everyone else?”
Appropriate, unique, personal questions with a goal in mind that came from doing some research. What a concept.
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