Illuminating Questions Help To... shed light on a topic, invigorate the conversation with critical thinking, make points clear and easier to understand, bring lucidity to new ideas, enable enlightenment, reveal insights, energize the conversation, assist in opening the mind to allow for consideration of new possibilities, transition beyond the present situation, and avoid traditional thinking.
Most importantly, it DIFFERENTIATES YOU from the masses of average Sellers!
"Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering... There is a crack, a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in"
Lyrics from Leonard Cohen "Anthem" 1992
A Too Frequent Situation…
Buyers are hoping to be illuminated by Sellers when considering possible solutions to their challenges. Sellers also require some enlightening as to the nature and scope of the Buyers desired resolution. Often though, we find that Sellers are too shallow with their inquiries, lacking a requisite amount of curiosity and forethought in their questions. This occurs primarily from focusing too acutely on the tactics of selling a product versus wanting to genuinely solve a problem. Consequently, Buyers are neither stimulated nor encouraged to respond beyond the minimum facts. Sadly, no significant "light" is shed upon either Buyer or Seller.
Framing Enlightening Questions...
How do we encourage Buyers to respond beyond their initial answer? How do we energize our questions to cause critical thinking? How do we make our questions more engaging and illuminating? First, it requires that you be a great listener. It's been said that there has never been a great questioner who wasn't also a great listener. Secondly, time to stop "winging it " with your questions. You have a chance to differentiate yourself simply by asking questions that cause the buyer to think more critically. Prepare a couple of thought-provoking, purposeful and intent-filed questions prior to making a call. It's worth the time!
We want the Buyers mind to "light up" when we speak. We want to use words & phrases that not only sound different than the other salespeople they speak to, but we want them to feel differently too. Seemingly small changes in words may have large implications. Imagine that you are in the process of developing a new relationship and suspect the Buyer may be feeling a little reserved and holding back. Given the newness of the relationship, the Buyer is naturally being a bit cautious. What can you do? #1, demonstrate that you've listened to them and understand their situation, #2, then look for places in the conversation to inject words that inspire confidence and trust. Words like; absolutely, accurate, advantage, always, approved, certain, confidence, definitely, easy, effective, excellence, guaranteed, insure, protected, proven, reliable, responsive, secure, stable, trusted by, and warranted. Here's when attention to subtly and nuance has the potential to pay big dividends. Any one of these words may create an opening, a crack, just wide enough to let the light get in.
As you think about preparing more thought-provoking and enlightening questions, consider minimizing the number of "can you tell me" questions. In reality, the Seller asks this question thinking it's an open-ended question. However, it's actually a closed-ended question as it starts with Can. Additionally, this question is one of the most common questions being asked. This opening not only makes you sound like every other seller that walked through the door, but it tends to just suck the energy out of the conversation. Buyers entertain lots of sellers and will freely state that most all sellers sound the same. Words really matter! If you want to get enlightened by the Buyer, you must use words and phrases like; "I'd like your opinion", "your thoughts are valued", "it would be good to get your insights", and "based on your experience". Also, begin to incorporate words that have some energy and vibrancy to them. To stimulate the Buyer, use words like; arouse, encourage, inspire, prompt, spark, trigger, energize, incite, invigorate, and motivate. Especially useful are words that show movement like; increased revenue, minimize risk, decreased costs, gain market-share. This approach may actually create value in the mind of the Buyer and lessen unnecessary discounting. Freshen up the conversation by the use words like; crisp, new, different, hot, unusual, radical, unconventional, innovative, leading edge, original, state of the art. The idea is that your offering is not just "a better mouse trap" but "the next great thing". This will help to create a crack for some light to shine through! Obviously, you'll need to practice speaking these words to make them your own and to take the rigidity out of utilizing these words for the first couple of times.
If you think about this concept for even a brief moment, you’ll see how simple this is to incorporate into your daily persona. For example, do you want this new customer to be satisfied, or ecstatic ? Do you want them to be pleased, or thrilled with the level of support? Do you want them to be comfortable, or confident with your implementation team? It’s obvious which responses provide the greatest emotion & feeling. Remember, these choices don’t happen by accident. It takes a conscious effort and thoughtful planning to create a crack, that lets the light get in.
"It's not just about asking questions, it's about becoming a questioner"