“Aren’t we there to provide solutions?”
“Absolutely, but how can you provide the solution, if you don’t know what the challenge is.”
However, how many times do we go into a presentation with: “This, (insert product or service) will solve all of your challenges.”
Asking questions is a skill. Like any skill, it must be developed and then practiced. It is not only the question but the timing of the question. Doctors, police, hostage negotiators and interrogators practice questioning techniques consistently as part of their training. Business is no different; it is the question and the timing of those questions which will differentiate you from all others.
There are the same old lame questions such as: What is your budget? What will it take to get your business? Is price the only issue? Are you the decision maker? There are a lot more, but you get the idea.
Prospects and clients are always expecting the lame questions. You can tell this by the blank expression on their face and the non-enthusiastic answers to your questions without even taking a second to think of the response. Why are they so quick to reply? Because it is a lame question and their unconscious mind takes over and answers it for them without any conscious awareness. I refer to this as the ‘comatose’ state. Your first task is to snap them out of their ‘coma’.
The best way is to ask an effective, efficient and great question which include some of the following parameters:
- Challenge their current thinking. One very effective way is when they start to share what they have done; simply ask: “Why?”; this is the most effective one-word question in the world.
- Challenge the status quo. Usually, when the ‘why’ question is asked, the usual response is in the vein of: “Because we have always done it that way.” Also known as, ‘the status quo.’ The best question again is: “Why?” Another great one: “Is it working for you?” Followed by, after their response: “Why then, am I here?”
- Ask questions to show you actually have expertise with the challenge they are facing. Resist to jump in and fix everything right away. Make sure you have all the issues out in order to be able to offer the best solution. Nothing will destroy bonding and rapport than jumping in too quickly and offering a half solution instead of a full one.
- Never put them into the ‘comatose’ state. Make sure the prospects are always thinking before they answer. A good way to know is if there is a lag time between the question and the answer. If they are too quick to answer, we are in the danger of slipping them into the ‘coma.’
- Questions which move the sale forward. One of the best is at the end when you can nonchalantly ask: “What is our next step?” This is your close. There are only three outcomes. Yes, which we all hope for. No, which is also great because there is no more wasted time and we can move to our next opportunity, or, getting a clear, defined next step. There is NO thinking about it.
These are all skills which can be learned. You may be thinking it is just common sense and very easy. To which I have to ask: “If it’s easy, then why is everyone not doing it?” Just asking.