Christopher Voss in “Never Split The Difference” talks about how allowing prospects to say “no” makes them feel relaxed and protected, where having them trapped into ‘yes,’ makes them feel more pressured and uneasy. Thomas Freese in “Question Based Selling” also discusses how placing the negative into your questions rewards you with more honest and accurate responses from your prospect. Based on this great insight, if you do have the chance to speak with the decision maker, one question I like to ask at the very end of a demonstration call is, “Based on everything we spoke about, what would be a reason why we would NOT work together?” This not only indirectly implies to the prospect that you are ok with them telling you no, but because you are asking an honest question, which most people would not think to ask, you’ll find they’ll have absolutely no trouble telling you why. Now, you can know the truth, and deal with it sooner, before it’s too late.
Towards the end of a demo, your prospect may say something along the lines of, “This looks great, I just need to take this back to the team to get their thoughts.” When this comes up, a good question to ask is, “What hesitations do you anticipate might come up with the team?”
The prospect’s answer will usually reveal potential objections and because you asked this while still on the phone, you will have the opportunity to overcome them before they come up in the team meeting and arm your prospect (champion) with the best response. This can significantly improve the likelihood of the prospect being able to sell your solution internally.
If you don’t ask this question, you will hear about the hesitations after the meeting where you will be playing defense. This question can also reveal what the prospects own hesitations might be and will give you an opportunity to address them while you still have the time on the call.
I mentioned in a previous post that open ended questions are the best to ask. However, they don’t just apply to very big asks, but are just as relevant for the small asks. One powerful example is, when conducting a demo, instead of asking ‘Do you have any questions for me at this point?,’ (a close ended question) it’s way more effective to say ‘So, what questions might you have for me?’ This accomplishes two things: (1) It implies that anyone taking this seriously should actually have real questions for you. (2) It allows the prospect to actually think of something to ask, instead of wondering whether or not they even have a question in the first place. It works!!
During a demo, you’ll hear a lot of sales people asking close ended questions like (1) ‘Do you find this tool helpful?’ Or (2) ‘Do you think you would use something like this?’ Although you can still get a sale from asking these types of questions (assuming people actually find value in your product), these questions are not nearly as strong nor as powerful as open ended questions. As an example, I’d replace question (1) with ‘How does this compare to your current process?’ I’d replace question (2) with ‘Where do you think this could fit within your process?’ More thoughtful, open ended questions call for genuine conversation, allowing the prospect to actually sell themselves!
Great sales people ask thought provoking questions. However, thought provoking questions are the toughest to ask. They just make you downright uncomfortable. Solution? Cushion the question! Cushioning is opening and closing the question with a soft statement, re-framing the ‘tough’ question into a ‘soft’ ask. For example, first open with something like “Out of mere curiosity…” or “This may be a bit premature to ask, but…” followed by your ‘tough’ question. Immediately after that, close it with another cushion, such as “Thought it was worth picking your brain about it,” or “Just looking to see what it’s like to be in your shoes.” You’ll be pleasantly surprised to see those ‘tough’ questions being answered quite comfortably.
A lot of times you’ll be doing a demonstration, and the prospect is either not saying anything on the call, or just being very curt with their answers, not sharing much with you. We’ve all been there, and it’s pretty annoying. If it’s happening on a call for too long, I’ll actually just call them out and say something like “So Bob (name), I’m detecting some radio silence on this call. Is that because you have nothing important to share with me or is it because this is not really that relevant for you?” It gauges how interested they really are, and demonstrates that you are serious, without being rude. You’ll get a straight answer. You’ll also sometimes get a good laugh.
Sometimes, SDR’s will ask me my opinion about an email they plan on sending out. Typically, my first response is “If you received that email, would YOU respond to it?” Funny enough, usually the answer I get is “No, I wouldn’t.” Then we laugh about it. Then we change it. These are good questions to ask ourselves before we send out any emails.
When I don’t get a response from a prospect, I send out one of the following emails, written only in the subject line, written in lowercase: (1) “too busy or just not interested?” OR (2) “everything ok?” They almost never fail to get a response.
At the very end of a full demo, a great question to ask is; “Out of curiosity, how would you explain to your team what we’ve built here at our company? Curious to see how you’re thinking about it” The prospect then tells you EXACTLY how they’re thinking about your service, confirming they’re thinking about it the right way. The BONUS is, they’re also providing you with additional insights which you can take with you on your next sales call.
When sending a summary or follow up email, it’s great to go out of your way and specifically jot down your phone number in the actual body of the email, as opposed to not mentioning at all, and just leaving it in your contact information. Instead of saying “You can reach me with any questions,” saying “Also, feel free call me back at …..” allows the prospective client the ease and convenience to simply call you back, without doing extra ‘digging,’ especially when ‘thumb scrolling’ on a cell phone. This has resulted in inbound calls, and productive conversations, uncovering information not otherwise uncovered.