The Question Trilogy
It’s crucial to learn what your prospect needs from you before he or she is willing to buy. One of the best ways to find out this information is by asking what I call the “question trilogy”:
Question 1: “How many efficiency projects have been proposed here in the last <<<fill in the blank>>> years?” Just as they say that there is no music without silence between the notes, when you ask an important question that requires heavy thought, just zip it. Put your pencil to your notepad so that they know this no time to B.S. because you’re going to write it down. Assuming they have had proposals in the past, move on to question two.
Question 2: “How many of those projects have been approved?” Again, give them time to think. After they give you a figure, move on to question three.
Question 3: “What was it about those projects that made you willing to approve them?” This is the golden question that will provide you insight into their values and decision-making process.
The earlier you ask these questions, the better. You might learn that you have no chance closing a sale because the prospect is already loyal to another vendor. In this case you should just pack up and move on to a different prospect. Or you might learn that they only work with vendors who can provide a certain service that they value…if you are able to provide them with this service, it should be front and center in your presentation going forward. Listen to what they have to say, take note of it, and tailor your proposal to fit their needs.
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