We spend a lot of time thinking about how to articulate what we do. Our goal? To get people interested in doing business with us.
But if you’ve been in business for any time at all, you’ve probably learned that talking about yourself rarely results in someone wanting to do business with you. (I explore this in 4 Strategies for Booking More Business.)
My friend, Don (@DonCooper) posted this tweet:
#Sales Tip: Every time you ask a question, you get a point. Every time you ask a question your prospect can’t answer, you get ten points.
YES, that’s such a great way of framing the power of an effective prospecting conversation (Mark LeBlanc calls it a “meaningful conversation”). You’ve heard me talk in other posts about how important it is to know your customer and connect powerfully with them. The most effective way to do this by listening well.*
Have you forgotten how to listen?
I don’t know that you can really “teach” someone to listen if they don’t naturally have this predisposition.
Listening well, frankly, comes from a holy place: your heart. We listen because we’re interested, we care; we want to make a difference. What we *can* teach each other, or more aptly, remind each other, is that when you’re prospecting or networking, you don’t need to focus or “worry” with pitching people on your services.
You just need to listen, really feel into your prospect’s situation, empathize. And asking good questions is key.
“Have you thought about it this way?”
Ultimately, good questions inspire your prospects to look at something they hadn’t considered before, or to view their problem in a different way.
Stumping the prospect by asking a really powerful question can be a game changer. And so can asking questions that really make your prospects dig and think about their situation differently right there, in the moment.
Breakthroughs are on the other side of great questions
I often reframe a problem my client is experiencing with their breakthrough in mind: your problem means you’re doing XXX right. You’re on the path to XXX, which is great! The next level requires you to figure this out–this is a good problem to have!
Many times, our challenges are calling to the hero within us, showing us where we need to step up in our lives (remember the powerful question: Who must I become to complete this quest?) Reminding who you’re talking to that their “problems” are gateways to bringing out the best in them can be a really powerful reframe.
What if this were God, the Universe, or the Spirit’s way of calling to your courage so you could break through? What if this didn’t mean you were failing, but you were on the brink of a breakthrough?
So, for example asking, Have you considered . . . ? or How does believing XXXX serve you? can bring an unconscious pattern to conscious thought.
Similarly, asking, What if you tried XXXX? can awaken a perspective in your prospects that has lain dormant.
Applying your expertise to their specific challenges and asking questions to help them realize how they are stuck (rather than you telling them, which they are likely to resist) is also a really powerful way to help your clients.
Question: What questions do you ask your prospects to help them see that they need your help?