I had my first crush on a girl when I was in head-start in 1964. They called it Puppy Love back then.
I was a strapping young lad of four years old. The focus of my affections was a senior in high school named Debbie. Oh… Debbie was B-EAUTIFUL and I was head over heals in love – a fact of which I informed my mother as I came home from school one day.
“How do you know you love her?” my mother asked patiently.
“She’s beautiful!” was my innocent reply.
“Jeffrey,” she continued, “That’s on the outside. It’s what’s on the inside that matters most. What do you think she’s got on the inside?” she asked.
My four-year old reply made perfect sense to me. “Blood, guts and bones I guess, Momma.”
She smiled and said, “I don’t believe you’re actually in love, son.”
I replied, “I believe me. Why shouldn’t you?”
How many times in your sales career have you found yourself making the mistake of telling your prospect what you were convinced they needed to hear? But instead of immediately thanking you for your divine guidance and insight – they seemed a bit resistant or skeptical. The reason for that is simple. You made an error in judgment. Instead of telling them what they needed, you would have been better served to ask them great questions in such a way that they came to the inevitable conclusion that your product or service would have solved their problem.
Don’t get me wrong – I very much believe in a combination of consultative and insight selling. I think you have to be a great student of your industry and what is coming down the road to your clients. But even with that – you are much better served by directing your clients forethoughts into a new direction by developing and asking great questions. Simply telling them what is around the corner may not be so easily accepted.
What particular issues have the potential to catch your existing or prospective clients off guard? What collateral could you find from objective sources that could help them anticipate their future needs? What ways can your product or service help them with those concerns?
And finally, what questions can you ask that will bring it all to the forefront of the discussion?
Remember – just because you believe you, does not mean that they will believe you too.
Sales Leaders – how do you teach your team to ask questions?