Today’s post is by Brian Stahlhut Christiansen, CEO and cofounder of Milestone Selling – a Salesforce® Partner enabling proactive pipeline leadership – and author of Accelerate Sales: The Seven Golden Keys and The Sales Manager’s Milestones. Follow @BscStahlhut.
Picture a frog on a frying pan. You turn the heat on to 1 and the frog starts to think, “This is nice and warm.” You raise the temperature to 2 and it starts asking you to turn down the heat. At 3, it gets drowsy. At 4, it starts to fall unconscious. At 5, it dies and, at 6, it’s completely fried.
You might be thinking, “What a weird story,” but stay with me…
You throw the frog out and let the frying pan stay heated at the highest possible temperature. After half an hour, the pan is red hot – and you put a new, living frog onto it. The frog jumps off immediately.
But why didn’t the first frog do that? It had time to get used to the heat. It wasn’t ideal, but it stayed where it was. Its body kept adjusting to the temperature changes and, all of a sudden, it was too late.
In much the same way, your buyers have
- Gotten used to the way things are
- Tacitly accepted all inconveniences
- Always thought it had to be impractical that A paid far too much money when B thought it was normal to have problem C
The core purpose of sales is to challenge these assumptions – to make buyers imagine what the world would look like if those assumptions were overturned. Make them think about what they would get out of buying your solution.
You have to do this – they can’t do it for themselves. If they could, you would receive calls like these from companies every single day:
We are experiencing problem A,
are tired of impracticality B,
and it costs too much to C.
If your solution can help us,
we would like a presentation
as soon as possible!
But you don’t.
That’s why you need to use your abilities to ask questions that activate buyers’ needs. Here’s how.
Map Selling Points
Map your unique selling points to the situation in your prospect’s reality – what happens if they need your product, what problems they would experience if they need your solution, and what issues would occur if they are not buying a service like yours?
Ask Obstruction Questions
For each of the selling points, write down questions that will let you know if the selling point is relevant. We call them obstruction questions and here are a few examples:
- How do you handle ABC?
- How often does XYZ occur?
- What is your process for ABC?
Notice how these questions are neutral and interview style – you are not selling or pitching anything.
Ask Results Questions
If (and only if) your obstruction questions have uncovered a need or relevance for your selling point, you ask results questions. Here are a couple of them:
- So what happens when…?
- Who fixes that?
- How long do you spend on…?
- What is the cost of…?
Ask Expressed Need Questions
If the consequence or cost related to having the problem or issue you have uncovered is tangible, all you need to do now is ask expressed need questions. You simply want your prospect to confirm you have built a case for your product, solution, or service. Here’s how:
- Would it be something you would like to look into?
- Is that something you want to discuss further?
- Would you be interested in how we can solve this issue?
That’s the simplest way to make your prospect see the value of your offering and actually consider buying it. Just like making the frog react to the heat rather than get used to it.
Download our free e-book at www.freesalesguide.com to find more inspiration on better sales questions.