I’ve been through countless meetings where a sales professional tries to build rapport by asking questions about a photo or souvenir in a leader’s office and it goes downhill from there. So why do some many fail in influencing others from the start?
I believe that one key element of influence is authenticity. Authenticity is defined as being who you are and allowing others to be who they are. It also means that you are present in the meeting; not going through your sales methodology, but you’re actually listening to what the other person says.
If you meet with people who see sales professionals on a regular basis, I’m guessing most of their offices have been gone over several times by visiting sales professionals asking questions.
This is like being asked if a morning or afternoon meeting is better on a certain day. It’s in every sales training manual and it sets up the person asking the question as just another sales person. Do you think your client is looking to answer more inane questions from yet another sales person? Do you want to be just another sales person?
Today, leaders have less time and resources available to meet their organizations’ and personal goals. They are overworked and under-appreciated at the home and office. So, what should you do if you hope to capture your best prospects’ interest?
Questions still work, but you must learn to create questions that set you apart from other sales people. You must become better at using questions to open a conversation, not a sales pitch. The more senior the level of the person you talking with, the more time you must invest in creating better questions.
Here are several ideas about how to become better at asking questions. In a future blog, we will share the different types of questions you can ask but, today, we want to talk about the mindset you need to succeed in working with clients. Questions are the critical foundation to having influence with your best clients.
The first idea is to be genuinely interested in what the other person says. Stop working off your sales forms and really listen to what your potential client says. Learn to function more out of curiosity and less out of routine. Listen to what they have to say and start to understand what they aren’t saying. Huh, you may think, listen to what they aren’t saying?
“Tripp, you lost me here. How do I listen to what they aren’t saying?” You have to be prepared and willing to ask questions that show you don’t understand what’s being said.
Most sales professionals fail to connect with their best clients because they fear they don’t know enough. Very seldom do you fail to connect because you don’t know enough.
If you prepare for your meeting in the right way you will come across as both authentic and prepared. This will help you stand out among your peers.
That’s it for today. Don’t worry, we will talk about how to prepare on this Friday’s blog. See you then.