Sally was psyched. She had been trying to get this appointment for months. This deal could make her year, and she was ready. She took one last deep breath, checked her teeth in the rearview mirror to ensure they were free from debris, and opened the door. As she walked across the parking lot, she silently went through her opening one last time. Bob came out to the lobby to greet her, they shook hands and made their way to a nearby conference room. The conversation seemed easy to Sally and Bob appeared to be fully engaged. She asked good questions about the current situation and the challenges he faced, and Bob was more than willing to offer answers. Afterwords, she was confident she had given him the room to share, and that she had fully identified the need. It was time for her to let ‘er rip. Like the polished professional that she was, she went point by point, enumerating how her product could solve each of the challenges they had just discussed. She then made the “ask”, fully expecting him to sign up on the spot. Bob drew in his breath, and then gently let out a sigh. He looked at Sally and said, “Well, you have certainly given me a lot to think about. Why don’t you check back with me in 90 days?” Sally almost couldn’t believe what she heard. She was sure that this was in the bag. She shook Bob’s hand and made the long walk back to the car. After glancing again in the mirror to make certain there was nothing in her teeth, she sat back and wondered, “What did I do wrong?”
“Well, you have certainly given me a lot to think about. Why don’t you check back with me in 90 days?”
It wasn’t that Sally did anything wrong. Rather, it was that she missed an opportunity to connect her solution to the real difference it could make for Bob. She had asked good questions, identified the challenges and established a need. She was able to clearly articulate a viable solution, so why didn’t Bob buy? He didn’t buy because he couldn’t viscerally grasp the value. He could see the numbers , logically understand the benefit, but he could not feel the value. Sounds weird, I know. But there is a huge benefit when you can connect to emotion or feeling. So how do you do that? I am glad you asked.
He didn’t buy because he couldn’t viscerally grasp the value. He could see the numbers , logically understand the benefit, but he could not feel the value.
There is a powerful question that should be inserted between identifying the need and offering the solution. “What would solving this mean for you?” By asking this question, you are inviting the buyer to envision a future without the headaches, bottlenecks or issues that you have just outlined together. Adding a few other probing questions such as, “How would fixing this impact your day?”, or “How can fixing this improve results?” would allow him to feel, see, and viscerally understand the value in finding a solution. Then, the only job that remains would be to provide him with a compelling argument that your product delivers that solution, something that Sally did well.
By asking this question, you are inviting the buyer to envision a future without the headaches, bottlenecks or issues that you have just outlined together.
This is an empathetic approach to selling. It requires you to think from behind the eyes of your customers and understand what your solution would mean to them. You need to recognize how it might make their job easier, or reduce their stress, and possibly improve their results. Knowing this is as important as knowing your product. If you do so, when you ask “What would solving this mean for you?”, you can just give the buyer space and the time to connect the dots.
You need to recognize how it might make their job easier, or reduce their stress, and possibly improve their results.
If you don’t believe me, just try it on yourself. Pick a challenge big or small that you face on a routine basis. Close your eyes and think about what it would mean if that challenge went away. Now, if as you are reading this a pop-up ad were to appear on your screen that read “That challenge you have, click here to solve it.” Aren’t you a little more likely to reach for your mouse? That is the power of the question. Use it and you will close more deals.
Thanks for reading.
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Elliot Begoun is the Principal of The Intertwine Group. His articles appear in publications such as the Huffington Post, SmartBrief and Linked2Leadership. He serves as a thinking partner, providing clients with the clarity, focus, and tools needed to make good people and product decisions. He helps clients build lasting relationships with their customers, develop leaders who make others feel heard, cared for, valued and respected, and most importantly grow.
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