Read all the way to the end of this post to see a video tutorial by Joshua Giuliani.
The number 1 rule of sales is MAKE IT ALL ABOUT THE BUYER.
Of course, not. It is a really simple concept that sadly, not all salespeople follow. At the end of the day, if you follow this simple rule you ensure you have an ethical and positive sales conversation.
Don’t worry, if you follow my 7-step sales conversation system, you WILL get a chance to demonstrate your value, but as you enter the conversation all eyes should be on the buyer’s business. This article will show you the right kind of questions to ask, the information you need to gather and why – to start your conversation in the best possible way.
You are on a factfinding mission. You need to learn as much as humanly possible about the buyer’s business. Having a really clear understanding of the ins, outs, goals, staff, revenue, etc, is the first step toward a successful conversation.
Firstly, we don’t know if we can help the buyer yet. Maybe, the buyer’s expectations are too high or the service that would help them achieve their goals best isn’t yours. In either case, if you can work this out quickly you save both parties a hell of a lot of time and build an immense amount of credibility and integrity in the process.
Secondly, and most relevant to having a successful sales conversation, is that if your service CAN help the buyer achieve their goals, asking the RIGHT questions will make your services seem even more irresistible and necessary than they already are to that buyer.
The art of using questions to sell is not a new concept. My process for asking questions at the start of a sales conversation follows a model called Cognitive Dissonance.
The Cognitive Dissonance model was theorised by Leon Festinger over 50-years ago and is still used by epic salespeople to this day.
The theory is that creating a situational map within the mind of the buyer will create a gap (dissonance) between where their business is and the goals or expectations for the future. The bigger the gap, the higher the motivation to close it and if your services are best suited to close that gap then you’re positioning yourself as the solution.
But, what does the map look like, you ask?
Patience you must have, my young padawan.
The model requires us to cover four key quadrants:
- Logic of Now
- Emotion of Now
- Logic of the Future
- Emotion of the Future
Logic of Now
This quadrant is all about what is happening in the business in the current day. How many employees they have, client base, quarterly revenue, location of the business, processes and anything else relevant to the state of the business. It is important to finish the question with RIGHT NOW to keep the buyer thinking about the current situation, instead of being distracted by what they want to be the reality (future).
Ask questions like these:
- How many clients do you have right now?
- Where is your office located right now?
- What sort of monthly revenue are you doing right now?
- How many leads do you generate in a month right now?
Emotion of Now
Once the Logic of Now has been explored and you are satisfied you have generated a really clear picture in the mind of the buyer, you ask this question:
- If nothing changed in 12-months, what would that mean for you?
Adding FOR YOU to the end of the question brings it back to the emotional quadrant. We’re looking for descriptive words here that demonstrate how the buyer would feel.
Disappointed. Stuck. Frustrated. Trapped. Sad. Angry. These are all great examples of what you should be hearing and if you have, you can check this quadrant off.
It may feel a bit strange asking an emotion-related question in the sales process, but don’t worry, the more you practice the more casual it will come across in the conversation. Keep in mind that some people may struggle to discuss this quadrant. If you get pushback just explain that you are trying to generate a really clear understanding of their situation so that you can serve them better… Then ask again.
Logic of the Future
Now we move into the buyer’s vision for the business. Just like with the Logic of Now, we are asking business-related questions, only this time we’re focusing on what the business will look like in 6/12/24 months time.
This is the quadrant where we get an understanding of the buyer’s expectations. Leads, size of business, revenue – what does the buyer want their business to look like?
- How many clients do you want to have in 12-months?
- Have you employed more people in 12-months?
- What sort of monthly revenue is the business doing in 12-months time?
Emotion of the Future
Just like with the Now, we explore the emotional consequences of the Logic – this time, we’re looking for positive consequences.
- If we were able to achieve those goals, what would that mean for you?
“That would be amazing. I’d be pretty bloody happy.”
“I’d be so proud of the team.”
By asking these questions you generate a map within the mind of the buyer. Go deep! Cover every little detail. The colour of the walls in the brand new office. The number of employees they have in the future and what roles they all have. Make that revenue goal as high as possible. The clearer you make it to the buyer, the bigger the gap, the more motivated that buyer will be to work with you if you can help them.
If you are more of a visual learner have a look at the video tutorial below on how to execute this by Joshua Giuliani.
This model is step #1 in my 7-step sales conversation system that I call Sales to Success. If you want to learn more about the system, download the full step-by-step guide here.