A Good Question to Ask Your Prospects

When prospecting, beware of taking information from your prospect at it’s face value.

It is important to pause and verify the veracity of the information by inspecting it from another angle. In other words, dig a bit deeper and get the prospect to elaborate. By doing so, you’ll not only position yourself as consultative, you’ll avoid making assumptions that lead you down the wrong paths.

Bottom line? Better sales results.

Misguided Information

Read the quotes below and ask yourself what are the implications. Assume the prospect is providing you with the information:

  • “Our sales are up 20%!”
  • “We’ve reduced shipping costs by 15% over the last quarter.”
  • “Our top rep got 68 sales last year. The next highest rep got 65.”
  • “We’ve increase our production of lancets by 400 units a week by adding another machine operator.”
  • “I get about 15 new patients every month.”
  • “We have about 5-6 accidents per year.”

You would probably agree that the way the information is presented in these examples makes the information appear positive.  And herein lays the trouble. Taken at its face value the information can be misleading and dangerous from a selling perspective. The problem is that the above statements lack any perspective whatsoever. For instance:

  • “Sales are up by 20%” sounds impressive but compared to what?
  • Is the fact that shipping costs are down by 15% really good or really poor?
  • The top rep got 68 sales but was the company expecting him to get 100?
  • Is the cost of adding a machine operator covered by the production of 400 units?
  • When a chiropractor states that he gets 15 new patients per month, is he happy with this?
  • Is 5 -6 accidents per year something to celebrate?
A Good Question

How do you get perspective? How do you assess this information to determine its relevancy?  You do this by asking one simple question:

“How do you feel about that?”

For example:

Prospect:    “Sales are up 20%”

Rep:            “That’s interesting. How do you feel about that?”

Prospect:    “That’s a good question. And the answer is not good at all. While they are trending up we are significantly behind on our objectives.”
Because we hear that sales are “up” the inclination is to believe this is good news but in this example, the prospect is not happy. Left unchecked, this statement could skew your entire approach to a sale.

Similarly, because we hear a decision maker say that costs are “down by 15%” we get the impression that the prospect has got a grip on cost cutting. But the opposite may be true. Without verifying this statement further you run the risk of missing a huge selling point.

The same applies for the other examples. Asking the client “How do you feel about that” will clarify each statement one way or another.

Why it Works

The beauty of  “How do you feel about that” is twofold. First, it is an open ended question. By their very nature, open ended questions get people to “open up” and elaborate. Open ended questions invite the client to provide you with more information by which you can judge the statement further.

Second, this question is absolutely rich in psychology! Everyone has “feelings”- one way or the other- about things. By asking the client how she or he feels about their remark invites a certain degree of personal speculation and assessment.  Most people are irresistibly drawn to give their opinions. The interesting thing is that often the opinions are subjective and perhaps even emotional in nature but they are powerful and compelling because of it.  Buying decisions are often made based on an emotion. If you tap the emotional element of a prospect, your chances of making a sale increase significantly.

It is in these evaluative statements that the true nature of the client’s comments resides. “How do you feel about that” forces the client to ponder the remark and build upon it.

Summary

“How do feel about that” is a multi-faceted question that can be used in a huge variety of situations. Keep it handy and use it often. It will provide you with more information and better information by which you can direct and channel your selling efforts.

Try it. It works. It’s a good question.

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