Would you like to know the three best ways to build stronger customer rapport, increase your credibility as a professional, demonstrate trustworthiness and sincerity, and stand out among your competition?
- Ask More Questions
- Ask Better Questions
- Ask Questions your customer has NEVER been asked before
I meet with clients a lot, and they always seem surprised by the fact I have questions to ask them. They DO seem prepared to hear a generic sales pitch (as well as prepared to say “no” to whatever that generic sales offer might be.) What they’re not expecting is for someone to be genuinely interested in hearing about their business and what success means to them.
Ask More Questions
Have a list of prepared questions that walk the client down a specific path of discovery. This doesn’t mean you simply ramble through a long list of questions just to prove there are a lot of them! Your basic list of questions should include common themes that allow you to repurpose them without having to create dozens of new questions each time you schedule a meeting. Although, given the choice between creating new questions that are 100% applicable to the client and force-fitting a stock list of queries — spend the time creating intelligent new questions. As sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer says: “Ask smart questions and they’ll think you’re smart. Ask dumb questions and, well…”
Ask Better Questions
If you are prepared with thought provoking, open-ended, intelligent questions you can stimulate a real dialogue with your prospect. Too many people choose to wing it, thinking they can simply float along and go where the conversation takes them. The problem is, without something important (important from the client’s point of view!) to talk about; without thought-provoking questions that require the client to break from their own rote responses; without questions designed to make the prospect pause and think about their own true needs in terms of how the products and services you provide — they’ll just float along in the conversation too. Drifting along the currents of shallow conversations until you crash upon the oh-so-familiar rocks of commodity and “how low is your price” questions.
Ask Questions They’ve Never Heard Before
In my sales calls I actually keep score to see how many of the following phrases I can get the client to say. It’s sort of a “sales call bingo” game:
- “No one has ever asked me that before.”
- Gosh, I’m not sure… You’d think I’d know that!”
- “Great question!”
- “I’ll need to check into that. Can I get back to you?”
- “Let me shoot off an email while we’re talking. I may be able to get the answer before you leave.”
I don’t always get ALL of these responses, but you’d be surprised how many times I need to stifle a “Bingo!” during my conversations.
Some questions to use as you create your own list are ones about their own methods of winning new customers and new business. A sure-fire set of questions to elicit one of the responses above are always in regard to the investment required to earn a new customer, and how much a customer is worth to their business over the lifetime of the account. Questions about their most profitable product/service in comparison to their most popular product/service. Never assume they are the same answer — they rarely are! This combination of questions leads to one of my very best ones…
“Where do you think is the biggest opportunity for you to grow your business?”
See what I mean about the questions leading the prospect down a specific path? I already know where I want to end up, I simply leave a trail of breadcrumb questions to ensure we arrive at the conclusion together. The conclusion being that finding the cheapest price for whatever it is I came through door in order to bid on may no longer be the most important objective to the customer. I’ve got them thinking about profitability, growth, new business, and the future. The lowest bid on widgets pales in comparison to the importance of the issues I’ve raised.
I’ve proven my value by not wasting their time. I’ve given them things to think about that no average salesperson has ever done before. And you can bet I’m armed with power ideas on how to help them achieve the new goals I helped them set.