Albert Einstein once said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining and asking the proper questions. For once I have the proper questions, I can solve the problem in less than five minutes.”
Many of you have heard me repeatedly say that surgery without a diagnosis is malpractice. As long as I’m on that medical theme, I’ll share that recently I made my semi-annual pilgrimage to my general MD. Just for grins and giggles (and fodder for this post), I specifically made mental notes of the following. I was face to face with the doctor for 17 minutes. During the first 13 minutes he asked and I answered 11 questions. The last 4 minutes were comprised of his instructions to me pertaining to exercise, diet, prescription changes, etc. Huh; wonder if this guy went to the same school as Einstein?
Questions will do more to bolster your persuasiveness than any other selling techniques or behaviors you can possibly employ. Salespeople continually hear this and in the back of their minds I think they are aware of this, but very few follow through and do enough probing.
In the 40+ years I’ve been involved in the selling universe, I’ve observed that regardless of industry, and whether they are rookies or seasoned reps, more times than not sellers lead with their product, service or solution, rather than with solid, need-exposing questions. In spite of all of the sophisticated training, performance improvement, and coaching that is available today, for some reason most default to the “show up and throw up” style of selling, hoping that if they talk about their product enough, they will eventually get some traction with their buyer.
This approach continues to annoy prospects and frankly doesn’t work well with any regularity. By not uncovering the real needs of prospects this style only produces more, “I used to be in sales” type folks.
When confronted, many reps are adamant that they do ask questions. But while they may start off probing, as soon as they hear what sounds like a “need” to them, they immediately jump to their solution, like a hunting dog who hears the rustle of a pheasant’s wings in the brush.
That said, slow down with the foreplay and gather some additional information before pouncing. Consider determining who is being impacted by the pain, any additional buyer circumstances that would have some bearing on your relationship with the prospect, and the fact that there might be multiple needs. It won’t take but an additional minute or two to ask, “What else,” or “In addition to that what keeps you awake at night.” A few tidbits of additional information might make the difference between “deal and no deal,” so “go for the heart before you go for the throat.”
Neil Rackham, author of Spin Selling, found through extensive research that high-performing sales people typically do three things very differently than their counterparts who are not big hitters. These selling heavy weights normally:
- Ask a lot more questions
- Allow the prospect/client to do most of the talking
- Wait much longer before jumping in with a solution
Why not internalize and digest this information and become a high-performer at your company! Oh, by the way the title of this post comes from James 4:2; the Bible.
——————————-Walking the Talk————————————————————————————-
A few months ago, I met with the broker at a real estate agency that sells primarily resort properties and land. After breaking the ice, creating rapport and determining the context for the meeting, I spent the first 20 minutes asking a variety of questions and taking lots of notes on my faded yellow pad.
When I asked about her desired outcome, she said “I want my agents to do what you are doing with me right now; asking questions to determine their prospects’ needs and desires. Currently they transition to their listings far too early in the conversation.” Would you like for me to coach your salespeople for improved performance in this area? If so, start the journey here.
©2015 Robinson Training Solutions, LLC