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What’s behind the questions?

Not everyone wants to talk to you (particularly if you’re a stranger) on the phone. And irrespective of what you’re selling, they’re more comfortable doing a face-to-face conversation than even video! Thankfully, preferences don’t come in the way our modern day businesses.

What does come as a challenge? Answering your prospect’s questions. Let me tell you, you can never be too prepared to answer their questions. Knowing your product inside out isn’t enough. Anticipating questions and objections is the key. Now, I know it’s rudimentary to talk about such a topic when almost everyone who’ll be reading this would be an expert at selling.

That’s how everyone feels until someone throws in an objection or hangs up on them!

The antidote — know your audience and most importantly prepare for your calls/meetings be it on phone or in-person (or even video for that matter). I personally feel every question is an opportunity for us to explore a little deeper. Yes, I did say “every question.”

Even when leads or prospects say “no” there’s a reason behind that. They could be working with a vendor or your competitor or are locked into a contract or really don’t think what you’re offering is of any value. Whatever may be the case you do have the choice to explore what makes them think the way they are.

I’ve asked simple questions such as:

  1. What makes their relationship with their existing vendors tick?
  2. What value are they bringing to their organization?
  3. Does being locked into a contract make them feel constrained? If yes, how?
  4. What would it mean to work without such a constraint?
  5. What would be a valuable offering to them?

These aren’t stock questions but the ones that I came up with during the exploration stage. And that requires deep listening, which means I’m paying attention to their tone, body language and even facial expressions (if I can see them). Of course, you need to lay the groundwork before you ever hope to get to this stage.

But that’s exactly the point — you need to prepare for your calls and meetings. Winging it wouldn’t help. In fact, the more you prepare the better you get at prospecting and listening which makes you a rockstar at handling objections. I think the best way to build rapport is to listen intently.

One challenge that I’ve personally experienced is getting stuck in the “tell me something about your organization and what it does phase.” It’s irritating. Because I don’t want the conversation to be about my organization but my prospects and their businesses and their challenges. But that’s part and parcel of the game that the seller and the buyer play. Neither wants to be the first ones to budget. They want to be in control. Why? Nobody likes to be sold. Remember? That’s why.

Thankfully, I got out of that spiral by working on a 30-second commercial of what my organization does and conclude it with questions that lead them to get talking. Questions engage the mind, particularly the right ones. As far as the questions from the other end are concerned, just remember there’s always something hidden beneath waiting for you to uncover.