Ask the right questions at the right time
When you’re asked a question your natural instinct is to answer as simply as possible.
What are the two most common most simple answers a question could have?
Yes or No.
What you don’t usually do is answer by asking a question.
Well, start doing that because you’re not with the prospect to simply answer their questions – you’re there to make their life better by selling them your product which will solve their problem.
Let’s use RealtimeCRM as an example.
So we’ve got a prospect and they ask “Can we create reminders and tasks easily in the system?”
We don’t answer yes. We instead ask a question, “Before I answer can I ask what the use case is?”.
The prospect responds “We have to be really prompt with getting quotes out. It’s a huge frustration for us”.
We then answer “OK, yes you can create tasks. You can also connect your calendar to RealtimeCRM and set up reminders too but I think we’ve got a better solution for your problem”.
“RealtimeCRM allows you to store templates and then it’ll automatically fill them with the information you want. We already have all the quote information in the Opportunity record. You can then turn it into a one click process saving your team time. You can set it up as its own stage so you can see immediately all your opportunities that are still waiting for quotes to be sent out and intervene.
The prospect responds “Wow that’s so simple and really useful for us”.
By asking a question instead of simply answering their question you achieved two things. You got more information out of the prospect which you then used to place your product in their context.
The context being your product being a solution to their specific problem. You demonstrated the value of your product to them.
Don’t abuse it
Use this tactic where it’s appropriate. Don’t let it become a Monty Python sketch where you answer every question with a question of your own.
At first it’ll be difficult to figure out when to ask a follow up question. It’ll be difficult to get over years and years of conditioning where you always answer the question.
But given time, experience and some common sense you’ll see when it’s most appropriate to ask a question.
It’ll enable you to show value to the prospect and make you a trusted source, an advisor who stands out from the rest of the crowd.
They’ll just answer the question but you’ll dig deeper and provide valuable insight.
The questions should be natural not robotic
What does that mean?
You’ve probably got a list of questions which are fine but don’t robotically go through them and not listen to the answers.
Your questions should naturally follow and aid the conversation not be jarring interjections.
The way to do that is to make sure your questions dig deeper and then are informed by their answers. You don’t want to turn it into an interrogation so soften the tone with phrases like:
- Do you have an example so I can understand better?
- How does that work?
- Can you walk me through your workflow?
The exact questions you’ll ask will depend on your product and the specifics of their company but they’re geared towards getting more information, making them feel like their needs are being listened to and then using the information you get to put your product in their context demonstrating how valuable it will be to them.
How to deal with prospects with a lot of objections
We all know them.
The prospect who wants this and that and the other. He’s machine gunning objections at you and you’re sitting there thinking this is really going south.
Your natural instinct is to save it by trying to respond to every point. Whatever he pitches you’re going to knock it out of the park.
Don’t do that.
You’re going to get into a pointless argument that won’t go anywhere. They’ll keep making demands and bringing up something else that your product is lacking or this feature that they want.
It’ll become a competition and someone has to win. That’s not why you’re there.
So what do you do?
First, let them get it out of their system. Eventually they’re going to run out of steam especially if you’re not engaging them so they don’t have anything to rile them up further, to bounce off of.
Back during the second Punic war. You may not remember this but I’ll remind you. So the Romans are getting their behinds kicked all across Italy by Hannibal. Not that Hannibal, instead the one that crossed the Alps with a bunch of elephants.
Now the Romans are a really aggressive people. They like to win and they don’t like retreating in front of an opponent. They don’t like losing, in fact they really hate it. So they keep sending bigger and bigger armies at Hannibal that get destroyed.
Eventually, a Roman named Fabius says “Hey guys don’t engage Hannibal, that’s what he wants”.
The Romans ignore this guy and get smashed some more
Finally, they go back to Fabius and listen. So they employ his “Fabian strategy” where they avoid decisive battles and slowly by picking and choosing small skirmishes they wear down Hannibal’s army.
You don’t want to fight every objection. Don’t engage, let them wear themselves out and then ask “OK I hear you but which of those are the most important to you, your deal breakers?”.
Everything that they just threw at you is not going to be a deal breaker. By asking this question you can focus your energy on what actually matters and therefore save the call or meeting.
Most of their objections are going to be nice to haves or kind of important but if you can identify the deal breakers and you can meet those deal breakers you’ve still got a deal on your hands.
Ignore the nice to haves. They don’t matter and when you’re done going through the deal breakers ask if you’ve addressed them properly.
If they say yes then fantastic you can move the sale forward if they say no then ask what you’re missing.
By doing this you cut all the unnecessary stuff and you can prioritise on what will actually get you the sale.
It’s easy to get frustrated but it’s your job to keep the conversation focused. If you spent the entire call or meeting arguing over irrelevant details you messed up.
You’re the one who is qualifying the prospect. You’re the one who has to demonstrate that your product is valuable and you can’t do that if you can’t identify what matters and keep the focus on that.