13/06/2012 - 10:28

The right questions help build rapport

13/06/2012 - 10:28


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Salespeople are known for asking poor questions.

SALESPEOPLE (not you, of course) are known for asking poor questions; questions that are not only embarrassing, but can make them appear desperate and pressing for a sale.

The dumbest question in sales is: ‘What will it take to get your business’? It’s by far the worst question you can ask a customer. It makes you a price seller rather than a value provider, and it makes you look like you ‘need’ the sale rather than want to earn and grow a relationship.

Reality: There is a close second to the dumbest question: ‘What keeps you up at night’? Are you kidding me? None of your business, that’s what.

You’re at the beginning of a sales call, trying to build positive rapport and earn some level of ‘like’ and ‘trust’, and you’re asking me that kind of question? It’s almost as dumb as trying to ‘find the pain’. Please don’t get me started on 1972 sales manipulation and insincerity.

Why not ask the prospect a question that relates to their real life and their present situation?

Major aha! question: What wakes you up in the morning?

It’s a positive question that, when asked with a smile, will get you real answers, real facts, and reveal real truths. It’s light hearted, but powerful, and when followed up with ‘what else’ or ‘then what’ will create a dialogue that is totally customer focused yet interactive. 

Below are possible answers. Here’s what to do: Think of all these answers in terms of yourself, first. What wakes you up? It reveals your top-of-mind thoughts, issues, concerns, goals, problems, and attitude toward them. Got it? 

You ask, ‘What wakes you up in the morning?’; they answer:

• Alarm clock. Easy answer. Leads to, ‘Then what’?

• Kids. Great answer. Leads to all kinds of mutual discussion points and common interests if you also have them.

• Relationships. A bit touchy. Let the prospect lead.

• Coffee, shower, exercise, the news. These subjects will provide more superficial answers that might reveal things in common.

• The day and things to be done. People will make their day more important than your day. And you’ll feel it when they chatter and complain about ‘having so much to do’.

Now let’s take it deeper. Asking the ‘then what?’ question will get them to the next phase of their reality. You might ask, ‘What else wakes you up?’, or the more powerful, ‘Then what?’; they might say: 

• Money, or the lack of it. Think of this one in terms of yourself. Go lightly, but it’s very revealing. 

• Health issues. If they have a physical ailment or some medical condition, it may affect their decision-making capability.

• Energy/positive anticipation. This is great. An enthusiastic person can connect with your compelling presentation and catch your positive feelings. The stuff he or she is excited about. These are golden issues that need to be embellished and compared to what it will be like when your stuff gets its chance.

• Big issues. Tax, business failure, damaged reputation, lawsuits. A pending merger or pending big order could be a positive light.

• Business issues. The day-to-day often gets in the way of the month-to-month and the year-to-year. Stay away from the mundane, and be aware of the complainer.

• Personal issues. Family and relationship issues can have a real impact (either way) on your meeting outcome. 

• Career issues. Work, boss, sales, people, and events can have huge implications on your need to do something today. 

• Nagging issues (worries). These are elements that slow down the actions a business is willing to take. If you know what they are, you’ll be less likely to be impatient, and more likely to create a winning plan to make the sale.

• Unfinished issues. Stuff undone. ‘Wait until after…’ are defeating words to the ears of salespeople. But if you know what they are, you can get a better sense of ‘when’.

• Deadlines. If it’s close, you’re toast. And the best thing you can do is offer assistance.

Major clue: Don’t overdo the process. Ask a few questions, gain a few answers, and then move on. 

As a result, you have some new information, maybe some common interests, a few smiles, and certainly a thinking prospect. 

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer service at www.trainone.com. He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to salesman@gitomer.com 

© 2012 All Rights Reserved. Don't reproduce this document without written permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer. 704/333-1112 www.gitomer.com.



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