“If I could save you $100 over the next 3 months on your phone bill, would you be interested?” Few of us would want to say no to saving $100 but many people will respond “No” to this question, just because they don’t want to deal with a sales person. We’ve all encountered sales people who ask these “set up” questions and in many sales training classes, this technique is still taught. How unfortunate!
Asking the right question is undoubtedly the best way to learn information and to engage your customer in a meaningful dialogue. The key is to ask the question correctly. You want to word the question in such a way that the listener does not feel like they are being set up. Often times, small changes are all that are required to make a huge difference.
For example, you may want to learn about the importance of an attribute that is one of your product’s distinguishing features. You can ask your customer the question, “Is safety important?” This is not a leading question, but consider… what have you learned? How often will people admit that safety is not an issue?
Just by tweaking a few words, you can ask a better question, “How important is safety?” This is a much better question for several reasons:
- It makes the person think.
- It is easy to passively listen and say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to “Is safety important?”
- The customer needs to stop and evaluate whether or not safety is an important differentiating factor when making a buying decision.
- It provides you with valuable information
- Your customer may reply, “It is important but I feel all the products in this class are equally safe.”
- Then you know if your product does not have something unique that would set itself apart from those competitors. It is not worth addressing this as a major differentiating factor.
- You do not sound like a typical sales person but one who is interested in learning what your customer values
The next time you want to ask a question, keep in mind the goal of asking that question, whether it is to discover common ground, mutual friends, interests or concerns. Think of how you can reword the question you want to ask so that it is nonthreatening and will provide you with knowledge you want to obtain. Worth thinking about, isn’t it?