Wednesday, August 20, 2008

David Anderson - Okanagan Training Solutions - Improve Communications by asking the correct questions

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who just drones on and hammers their opinions, without once stopping to listen to what you might have to say? I don't know about you, but whenever I find myself trapped into a conversation with one of these people, it takes every ounce of my self-restraint not to scream "Who cares?!" In fact, I have yet to meet a customer who enjoys the experience of having a sales person force their opinions and perceptions on them - even (or perhaps especially) when those sales people felt they were only offering their "honest opinion."
Today, we continue our series on "The 9 Fine Lines to Sales Success" with a closer look at the fine line between offering an honest opinion, and being brutal with the truth.
Don't get me wrong, our opinions are important - to ourselves. Nobody needs to hear all your opinions - especially not your customers! The mistake most sales people make is thinking that it is our opinions and perceptions that influence the customer to buy. The fact is, most successful sales people find that the complete opposite is true: they are far more successful when they don't express their opinions and perceptions, and instead limit their communication entirely to the facts and their emotions.
Making sure you don't cross the line
Honesty is stating facts the way we see them, and sharing how we feel about those facts. Brutality is attempting to force our opinions on others, blaming others for what we think they did wrong, or adopting an attitude that just screams "I told you so."
Successfully staying on the right side of this line depends entirely on your ability to get your customers to share with you their emotional reasons for buying your products. How do you do this? By asking them the right questions - questions that will move your prospect from an intellectual position (knowing they have a problem that needs to be solved) to the emotional state of trusting you to solve that problem in a way that will satisfy them.
The right questions, in other words, are ones that will help you to reveal a buyer's true motivations. To help you get the answers to those questions - and close more deals in the process - try the following four steps to building more lasting and profitable customer relationships:

1. Identify the intellectual problem.
Q: What's the biggest challenge you're facing today in the area of X?
Q: Our clients tell us that we help them solve problems in the area of X. That's not a problem for you, is it?
Q: What plans have you made to?
2. Develop an intellectual awareness about this problem.
Q: Can you tell me more about it?
Q: Could you be more specific?
Q: How would you improve?
3. Get emotional! Identify the specific business impact of this problem.
Q: How has this problem impacted your organization?
Q: What will happen if this problem continues?
4. Identify the specific personal impact of this problem.
Q: What impact does this problem have on your job / your staff?
Q: What will happen if you don't find a solution to this problem?

Staying on the right side of the line
Once you've revealed your prospect's true emotional reasons for buying your products, you're ready to move to the next step in streamlining your communication: learning how to share your emotions during the sales process.

Now, I want to be very clear here: I'm recommending that you describe your emotions, not that you show them - especially if that would mean breaking down into tears or a screaming tirade.
When it comes to expressing your emotions, think of yourself as Tarzan. Tarzan was a man of few words, yet he was always able to express himself in a way that people understood. Keep it simple, and simply report your emotion: I am mad. I am upset. I am stressed.
For example, you might say to a customer: "I noticed that we haven't received the purchase order from your purchasing department yet, and I'm worried that this will delay your implementation." Or: "It's been a couple of weeks since we agreed to talk about your order. If we wait much longer, I'm concerned that they'll be out of stock."
David Anderson
Okanagan Training Solutions
Priority Management Interior BC
250 762-5096 / 1-877-762-5096