The sales person immediately went into their presentation showing the uniqueness of their new software application. The presentation took thirty minutes and as I was about to ask a question, he mentioned that he only had four more slides to get through. Really! Were his slides more important than my question? Did he have any clue what we were looking for, or what our issues were? I don’t think so.
When a sales person gets into their presentation too quickly, it’s what I call verbal vomit. It’s difficult to engage a client when you start from where you are. Your priorities are meaningless to a prospect – their priorities are what should be most important. Your work – always – is “to engage the client” and meet them on their terms. The best way to effectively engage the client is by asking questions. The presentation should be the last thing you do, once you have gathered the information needed to provide the best solution for them. Real engagement means they are doing 60-70% of the talking as we seek to understand their needs to determine if our solution is a good match.
To position your value, here are three important questions to ask.
1. “What are the top challenges you are facing today?” The answers to this question help you begin to understand what is keeping them up at night, and where any solutions you offer must shine! Listen carefully as you explore with them the potential consequences of each challenge. Take notes and begin considering whether any of your offerings are potential solutions for any of their challenges. But don’t start selling…yet!
2. “When it comes to finding a solution for your situation, what’s most important to you?” This question provides you with valuable information, as you now understand their priorities. How did they arrive at their decision? Is everyone in agreement? Why is it most important? Asking this type of question will start engaging them. As you ask questions remember this little tip; “Why” questions address the past and “What” questions address the future, your potential solutions.
At this stage, you can begin discussing how you can help them, because you know their challenges and their priorities.
As you demonstrate your value, they are more likely to see you and your solutions as beneficial, so cost becomes less of an issue. And if you can differentiate your value from your competitors, so much the better. Unfortunately, many sales people position features instead of benefits which leads to cost objections. Remember, your competition is looking for a foot in the door, and lower cost is their easiest path forward. Your advantage is that you know their challenges and their priorities – use this understanding wisely.
3. “If this solution addresses any of the challenges you’re facing, what do you see as their benefits?” The beauty of this question is the client is now telling you the benefits of your solution. When you present the benefits, the client will retain 20% of what they hear. But when the client is stating the benefits, they retain 70% of what they say. In other words, their retention level goes up 3 ½ times! And if they need to justify the solution to another executive, they can easily articulate their reasoning.
Sales is always a two-way conversation, unless you’re buying socks on the internet. Successful sales people are engaging and the best way to engage the client is to ask questions. What challenges are you facing? What’s most important to you? And, what do you see as the benefits? If you want better answers from your prospects and clients, ask better questions.