The Question is the Answer
by Joe Bonura
POWER TOOL FOR POWER SELLING
What multi-purpose tool can you add to your Business Tool Box that
will help you dramatically improve sales and service? The Question
is the answer. If you have read this far, then the power of the
Question has already appealed to you. No other tool has helped me
excel more in my professional and personal life, so let us explore
how you can use the question-the power tool of the new millennium.
PERSUASIVE QUESTIONS GET THE BUSINESS
The late Fred Herman, author of Selling is Simple, was truly a
most persuasive sales person who very powerfully practiced the questioning
method. When Fred was a guest on a nationally televised talk show,
the host challenged him with an ashtray, "If you are such a
great sales person, sell me this ashtray."
Fred: What would you do with it, if I sold it to you?
The Host: Well, I don't smoke myself, but guests on the show are
always getting ashes on the floor. I would probably use it for that.
Fred: How much would you pay for an ashtray like this?
The Host: I would say about five dollars.
Fred (smiling): You just bought yourself an ashtray for five dollars.
Fred asked only two questions to make the sale. By learning to
skillfully ask the right questions, you too can become more persuasive
in every aspect of your life.
How do you get what you want? Just ask-it comes naturally. Have
you been with a small child at a supermarket checkout?
Asking for the order:
Child asks, "Can I have some candy?"
"No, you cannot have candy."
Principle of repetition-ask for the order again:
"Please can I have some candy?"
"No, you cannot have candy."
Addressing the objection:
"Why can't I have any candy?"
"Because I want you to eat your dinner tonight."
Handling the objection:
"If I eat my dinner, can I have some candy then?"
The parent gives in to defeat, "Yes, you can have the candy!"
The triumphant child leaves the store with a fistful of candy,
and probably gets to eat it on the way home.
As grownups, we fear asking for what we want. Children are fearless
little soldiers who persist until they get what they want. Rekindle
the little child in yourself, and put all fears behind you-the fear
of rejection, the fear of objections, and the fear of embarrassment.
Consider what would be the worst thing to happen if you ask for
what you want.
As a professional businessperson, do you complain because your
client did not give you the business that you wanted? Could it be
because you didn't ask? Didn't ask the right questions? Didn't ask
at all? Didn't ask persistently? No more time to complain-Just Ask!
STOP SELLING AND START SERVING
Questions are the core of caring and quality customer service.
If you really care about your clients, you will develop a spirit
of inquiry to find out their true desires and objectives. The trend
of the millennium is to stop selling and start servicing your customers.
A better name for the sales person of today is Serve person.
NO MORE HANG-UP'S
How do you develop life-long relationships with your customers?
How do you show your customers you care? The most effective way
to get the customer's attention, and keep it, is to ask questions.
A customer will never hang up or walk out on you if the customer
is doing the talking. Asking questions shows that you have a sincere
interest in their needs and desires. You do not want to simply sell
them your product-you want to service their needs. You cannot help
someone who does not need you or want you.
SOLD IN A NEW YORK MINUTE
A few years ago, I went to New York to meet a potential client
who commenced my visit with a statement that he could give me only
ten minutes of his time. All the years of training to ask questions
were summed up in that one moment. I had two choices: I could regurgitate
all the wonderful things about me, or I could ask him about all
the wonderful things he needs. I chose ASKING, "What 10 objectives
do you want to accomplish most?"
He gave ten of his biggest objectives, and I answered, "I
can help you with nine out of ten of your objectives." It was
the fastest sale that I can recall. I knew that if I had chosen
to TELL before ASKING, it would have been like throwing spaghetti
on the wall and hoping it would stick. Discover what your customers
want and give it to them-that is the essence of service.
ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
Finding the appropriate questions begins with the answers that
you want to hear. List five benefits of working with your organization,
and turn each benefit into a question. For example, pretend that
one benefit is that you offer round-the-clock service. Convert that
benefit into one or more questions: Is round-the-clock service important
to you? How would it affect your bottom line if you were able to
save time? Listen to your customer's answers; they will spark ideas
for additional questions. Do not be afraid to ask several questions
about one benefit because if it interests the client, it should
also interest you. Move on if you see that the client is not particularly
interested in one of the benefits.
CLOSED-ENDED QUESTIONS OPEN THE SALE
Although some experts advise to never ask a close-ended, yes-or-no
question, I say do it. Alternating close-ended questions with open-ended
ones eliminates the monotony, and avoids sounding like an interrogator.
USE IT OR LOSE IT
If I commanded a hammer to nail nails, would it? It is useless
without the action of your hand holding the hammer. The same principle
applies to your new power tool, the Question. You must pick it up
and use it in order for the question to have value.
Go out and experiment with it today. Get out your Benefit/Question
list, and call a potential client. Ask as many questions as
possible, and you will be amazed at how much you will learn, from
just listening to their answers.
© 2004 Joe Bonura & Associates, Inc.