Learn how to ask questions to validate the impact of your business insights to the customer.
- As humans, our brains are wired to want to understand if something is bringing value to us. Sometimes this is more harshly described as the "what's in it for me" or the WIFM tendency. The same is definitely true of your prospects. When we are questioning them, we need to make sure that they understand that this part of the process has value to them. For example, have you ever been asked to fill out an online survey? Chances are, we ignore most of these requests. Now if the survey is from someone reputable and offers some sort of gift at the end, we may be more likely to complete it.
Even if the survey is too lengthy or asks us questions that we don't feel comfortable answering, chances are that we will fail to complete it. Our brain is constantly looking for value in a situation, especially when determining how or if to answer a salesperson's question. We have the same experience with our prospects if during the time when we ask questions we aren't giving them an opportunity to see the value in the question. So how do we do that? In my experience, one of the best ways is through sharing insights with a prospect and then through questions, helping validate the specific impact directly to the people that you're dealing with.
So let's spend some time talking about how to do this. By now, you already understand the benefits of having insights to provide to the prospect. We've also formulated questions around these insights that allow us and the prospect to see how their experience stacks up against the information we provided. Now we ask questions to validate the impact to the prospect. Let's go look at a specific example. A recent survey determined that 58% of qualified deals that were put into sales pipeline tracking systems such as Saleforce.com, across different industries, ended up going to the dreaded "no decision." So next I would ask the prospect, "When you look at the ratio of qualified deals "in your company's pipeline, is that percentage "close to your experience?" Now let's say they say, "No, not really.
"We only have around 40% 'no decision' deals." They might think they just pushed back on your insight and stopped your questioning in its tracks. The reality is, you're just getting started. Now that you have a bonafide prospect-driven number that you're going to work from, you can continue on with this quantification process. "Oh, I see, well that's certainly better "than the industry average, Mr. Customer. "But just out of curiosity, what is your average sale worth "in revenue terms?" And then they say, "Well, roughly $10,000." You say, "Okay, how many deals does your company "have working in a given month?" They say, "Ah, roughly 100." You then have what you need to really drive the impact of your questioning home relative to the problem you know they're going to want to address.
"Okay, so Mr. Customer, you average 100 deals "in process per month but 40% or 40 deals "end in no decision. "Is that correct?" They already told you that it was so. So if they're disagreeing now, they're disagreeing with themselves. "Then the real impact to your business "of those 40 deals, Mr. Customer, "is actually $400,000 in lost revenue per month," which was simply the 40 deals going to "no decision" times the $10,000 average deal value.
Next you might say something like, "So the reality is, even a modest 10% improvement "or just four of those 40 deals per month "actually saying yes versus going to 'no decision' "could add $40,000 directly "to your bottom line, Mr. Customer. "Does that sound about right to you?" Get them to agree. If they don't, go back through the numbers with them until you settle on a number that they do agree with. Do you see what we're doing here? We've provided valuable information to them using third-party insight.
Then we see if their experience tracks with this. And next, we assign a value to that information based on deeper questioning. By following this questioning model, you've allowed the prospect to create clear contrast between what they are currently doing and getting for that strategy versus what they could be doing and what they could be gaining. It now becomes very tangible and concrete to them. The next step to this process is to understand what impact these insights will have on their organization and then to understand, politely, why they haven't addressed these challenges yet.