“Great Question . . . Thanks for Asking!”

Here is how many salespeople might answer an “apparently” straightforward question.

(Buyer): “What about emergency response? When all hell breaks loose, I need to reach someone immediately!”
(Salesperson): “We have a 24/7 hour hotline to handle emergencies. You will get a response immediately.”

This is not a bad answer, but a huge selling opportunity is missed in the process. Here is how Mr. Shmooze would handle the same question. 

(Mr. Shmooze): “That is a great question (validation). What kind of emergencies have you experienced?”
(Repeating the issue supports its importance. This question opens up the door to an emotional response).
(Buyer): “Just the other night, I needed to get a big order over to a major client, and I couldn’t get a hold of anyone who could actually do anything. I don’t need phone numbers, I need a process and a guarantee that my service provider will come through for me with action, not just talk.”
(Mr. Shmooze): “Wow. Talk about stress. How did you handle the situation?”
(Buyer): “Well their so called 24-hour hotline was worthless. I was talking to someone in South Dakota about my problem in Chicago. I was up all night and managed the whole thing myself. I never want to go through that again.”
(Mr. Shmooze): “Right! We understand! Our other clients feel exactly the same way. That is why we have worked with them to develop a 24/7 emergency response program, we call it Code Red, so that we can respond to situations like the one you just described. The first thing that happens is that I get a text and a call on my cell phone. Then . . . etc.”

Do you see what just happened? Many salespeople would have answered what appeared to be a pretty straightforward question with a solid, literal answer. But Mr. Shmooze takes it further . . . much further.

First of all he knows that the buyer is making an emotional point . . . always a huge opportunity. So he probes, like a psychologist, to get those feelings really rolling, and in the process he gets much closer to the real pain that is driving the buyer’s decision to change service providers, as well as letting him vent, which is therapeutic. Mr. Shmooze also avoids the trap of quickly naming a solution (24-hour call center) that is of particular distaste to the buyer by working the conversation a bit rather than jumping to an answer.

So it is great when prospects and clients engage by asking good questions. Just be sure to be alert to both the traps and the emotional opportunities those questions can present. Listen and observe carefully, and take your time cultivating the conversation to maximize your chances of satisfying your clients’ emotional needs as well as their literal needs.

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