Getting prospects to ask you for your offer
In this article:
- Unintended sales advice from an ancient Greek philosopher
- The 2 most important things in a sales conversation
- How to use questions to create understanding, interest, and attention
- Effectively positioning your offer as the change agent
Unintended sales advice from an ancient Greek philosopher
Almost two thousand years ago, a slave turned philosopher from ancient Greece gave a piece of advice that we, as marketers, salespeople, and business owners should still listen to today.
“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Epictetus
I doubt he meant it as a tip for a digital marketer and sales consultant like me. Yet, if there’s anything I’ve learned from sales, it’s that the more I listen to my prospects, the more I can sell.
Why? Because when triggered by the right questions, they tell me everything I need to know to close the deal.
In today’s article, we’ll explore how asking your prospect the right questions leads them to ask you for your offer. In other words: how to engineer the ask.
The 2 most important things in a sales conversation
First things first.
Before you can even think about selling something to your prospect, you need to have a crystal clear understanding of two things.
1). Their current situation. This is their ‘before’ situation. You need to understand what problems they have and how urgent those problems are for them.
2). Their desired situation. This is their ‘after’ situation. You need a clear picture of where and what they want to be, what they (no longer) want to have, and what drives them.
The better you understand these two things, the easier it becomes to make the sale.
Yet, there is a challenge. Most people don’t have a well-defined understanding of their current or desired situations. Oftentimes, they ‘kinda’ know what they want (usually they more clearly know what they don’t want anymore) but they rarely have a good overview of their current situation (in terms of what’s holding them back and relevant data).
So it’s our job to create that clarity for two reasons:
1). To collect the data and insights we need to make sure our offer compellingly fits with their wants and needs.
2). To paint a crystal image for the prospect, so that they fully understand why they need our offer.
So the question is, how can you create the understanding and clarity you need to position your offer as the perfect change agent?
How to use questions to create understanding, interest, and attention
Our objective is clear.
We know we listen carefully to what our prospect/market has to say but how do we filter out the useless information and make sure we get those crucial insights we need to make the sale?
By asking the right questions.
The trick is asking questions that foster awareness for your prospect and insight for you. Actively and intently listening to your conversation partner will generate interest and attention for what you have to say. People tend to listen more when they feel listened to.
Which questions are the right ones will vary from market to market but here are a few to get you thinking.
8 questions that help you understand the current situation:
- What brings you here today? Why make time?
- What are you struggling with right now?
- What are you worried/frustrated about?
- What bothers you the most about this situation?
- Why do you think this problem exists?
- What else have you tried to do to fix this?
- How long have you been dealing with this?
- Why not stay where you are?
7 questions to learn more about the desired situation
- What do you want to be/have in the next X months?
- What is your motivation for getting to X?
- How would things be different for you (or your business) if you got to X?
- Would realizing X have an impact on other areas of your life?
- What’s stopping you from achieving that on your own?
- When are you wanting to fix this?
- How committed are you to make this happen?
Pro tip: Mirroring as taught by Chris Voss. Chris Voss is a former FBI negotiator author of Never Split the Difference. He teaches a technique called mirroring with which you can get your prospect to expand on what they’re saying by simply repeating the last words they said with an inflectional tone.
For example, a prospect says, “It’s so hard to close the deal!” Mirroring that, I could say, “close the deal?” When done correctly this will cause the prospect to provide further information. It’s deceptively simple and hugely effective for information gathering.
Effectively positioning your offer as the change agent
It’s important that your questions get your prospect thinking about their current situation in a way that makes them realize they really don’t want to stay there.
Then it’ll be your job to help them define exactly what they want. The distance between those two things, that is where you’ll neatly place your offer.
You have to position your offer as the change agent. If their current situation is point A and their desired situation is point B, then your offer is the car that gets them there.
“Being purposefully vague is your ally.”
If you’ve helped the prospect clearly understand and verbalize their current and desired situations, the offer should be a no-brainer. It will be at the top of their mind. In fact, when done correctly, they’ll ask you what you can do for them.
Before you explain what your offer is and after you’ve helped them paint a picture of their desired situation, you can recommend which steps they have to take to get there. In a way, you’re stating your offer without explicitly saying that it’s your offer.
Then just be silent and wait for them to ask you how you can help.
Pro Tip: Silence matters. Don’t overwhelm your prospects with too much information and resist the urge to keep talking. Focus on the outcomes and benefits but don’t get lost in the details. Being purposefully vague is your ally. Stay quiet after you’ve stated your offer and let your prospect ask the questions they need to ask to make their decision.
A common mistake many business owners and salespeople make is that they decide how much information to give the prospect. Usually, it’s too much.
The sale becomes much easier when you describe the outcome and results you will deliver and then let the prospect ask for the details. Let them determine what they want to know. Resist the urge to want to convince them.
If you’ve done a good enough job on defining their before and after situations, your offer will make sense to them. That is if you listened well enough.