Not just whether, how

One way to end a sales meeting is with the big push.  You’ve done the work, you’ve made the pitch, you go to close the sale.

Before that moment, and in the meetings preceding that meeting, you’re having a different conversation.

And it IS supposed to be a conversation.  That means questions are very often the answer.  One of the biggest mistake people make in trying to make a sale is the rush to get out your “whole story:” your job is to make a pitch, and you’d better say everything you need to say the clock runs out on your meeting.

Of course the problem with that is that you can’t solve someone’s problem if you never bother to find out in the first place what their problem is.

The other day I was stopped cold by a great question I’ve never asked so directly (but wished I had):

“What factors are most important for you in making this decision?”

So simple, but I’d never actually paused to ask that clear, direct, transparent, non-threatening, and quite objective question.

I wouldn’t do it in every situation – this question can, if not asked in the right way, put your prospect in a “head” rather than “gut” or “heart” space in terms of her decision-making, which might not always be the right thing to do.

But if you’re in a complex, relationship-based, multi-faceted decision-making situation, asking directly how the decision is going to be made is probably going to help most of the time.

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