I was working with a coaching client today. This client is new to prospecting by phone and also new to sales. His goal for his calls is to schedule new business appointments with prospects. My client had written his script and had come up with what he thought were some sure fire rebuttals for prospect objections. They were questions that he thought he could use to help prospects ‘see the light’. Unfortunately, the questions didn’t work very well.
Here were some of the questions he’d come up with:
- Don’t you want another set of eyes to look at what you’re doing?
- Has that worked well for you?
- Is your vendor/advisor/broker showing you/telling you about (fill in the blank)?
There are several problems with these types of questions. The first is that the answer will either be ‘yes’ or ‘no’. A ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer will give the prospector no additional information. In addition, these types of questions set up resistance from the prospect. They essentially set up a wall where none existed before.
Let’s look at the first question: ‘Don’t you want another set of eyes to look at what you’re doing?’
While the concept of having another set of eyes or another view point can work very well, this verbiage is confrontational. Once you’ve asked the question you have nowhere to go except wait for the answer—which will most likely be ‘no’. There’s a very subtle bit of a subtext here: The prospect is making or might have made a mistake and thus needs another set of eyes. It puts the prospect in the wrong and will automatically create resistance.
Rephrased to, ‘It certainly never hurts to have another set of eyes looking at what you’re doing…’ followed up by, ‘Right now, I’d like to introduce myself…’. This changes the focus from whether or not the prospect has made a mistake to the caller’s actual goal for the conversation which is an introduction. The concept of ‘another set of eyes’ becomes the rationale for the prospect to schedule the appointment.
The second question, ‘Has that worked well for you?’ also begs a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. Remember that the status quo is very powerful. Few prospects, unless they are absolutely miserable, will answer ‘yes’ to that question because few people like to admit (especially to strangers) that they have made a mistake. Most therefore, will automatically answer, ‘yes’, and then they’ll probably add, ‘everything is fine’. A ‘yes, everything is fine’ answer leaves you with no place to go. You’re facing a wall of your own making.
A slightly better version of this question would be, ‘How is that working for you?’ You might be able to gather some additional information. Even when phrased this way, however, the strength of the status quo makes this simply not a good question to ask.
A better question to ask would be, ‘How do you handle it when (fill in the blank) happens?’ You fill in the blank with an issue or challenge that (because you’ve done your homework) you know that your prospect might face. This question will give you information and possibly uncover areas of weakness or need where you might be able to help.
The third question, ‘Is your vendor/advisor/broker showing you/telling you about (fill in the blank)?’ is also a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer and is also potentially confrontational. In addition, this question can have the very subtle subtext that the prospect has made a mistake in their choice of vendor/advisor/broker. As with the first question, this question puts the prospect in the wrong which will automatically create resistance. A better question again is the one mentioned above, ‘How do you handle it when (fill in the blank) happens?’
These very subtle changes in verbiage can totally change how your prospect views you and your call. The language that you use can make a prospect open and willing to have a conversation with you or it can make a prospect totally shut down. The good news is that your verbiage is totally under your control. It is very possible and not particularly difficult to make these subtle tweaks that can have a huge impact.