When the broadband consultant entered my house we first had to pass through a reception room to go through to the room where my PCs are. The reception room, which doubles as a gallery and storage room for my painted art canvases, is usually a conversation starter for visitors and a good rapport builder. My profession is web design and marketing, not painting.
This broadband salesman asked me a lot of questions and complimented my work. I wanted the broadband regardless of his flatter patter but he was right to ask those questions and take an interest in me.
Questions solicit responses and responses help us build a fast picture of our prospect. As sales consultants (which we all are really) we need to know what they want and then what they need.
Though indulging a person normally solicits reciprocation, beware; transparency can result in outright rejection. In a selling context, getting too close to a person with whom you do not have adequate rapport sounds their alarm bells. Your customer may hang up the phone or walk away or become angry. They do whatever it is that human beings do. Never mind these set backs. Put it down to experience as you move forward.
Anyway, it was me who ended up asking questions too and actually making a sale when the engineer from the broadband company delivered my router. The first thing he commented on was how interested he was in my work and how much I charged. I asked a few questions and found out he was in a covers band playing at a local club and needed marketing ideas.
Take an interest in people and ask questions because you never know where the conversation will lead.
- When talking, your send to receive ratio should be 20/80. In other words, let the prospect do 80% of the talking with you interjecting 20% when appropriate. If your prospect is shy or of few words, encourage them. With a considered approach, it’ll soon flow.
- Find the pain. To stir up or unsettle a prospect a little helps get the truth and find out what it is they really need. Do it carefully and be sensitive. Understandably, most of us are wary or reluctant when confronted by a prying salesperson who we do not know. If you're sincere about helping them do not feel guilty about finding this button and pressing it.
- All you ever need do is ask questions. There is nothing offensive or rude about asking “why?” People enjoy talking about themselves even if they're furiously angry about something.
- If you ask a question, shut up and give the prospect chance to answer. There may be a silence. Unless they really struggle to answer, be patient and don’t tempted to fill these pauses.
- When you are asking or answering questions, paint a picture in the mind of your prospect. Use metaphor and analogy to create mental imagery that convey your ideas