This is an important powerful question which comes from Phil M. Jones the author of Exactly What to Say. a book I highly recommend that sales people and business owners both read. The key to be successful in sales, business and management is asking questions. It forces you to dig and help satisfy that sales curiosity, so that when you walk away there aren’t any what ifs lingering. Some of those very powerful questions are “Just out of curiosity…”
Why is it powerful?
Curiosity is valuable, it is non-assuming and rarely offensive when it’s genuine. Being curious about someone or something is a sign of respect that you are enough to wonder what is beyond the surface. Asking questions puts you into control but also relaxes your counterpart.
“…what specifically do you need some time to think about?
Does your counterpart really need time to think, are they just brushing you off, or perhaps they want to say yes, but can’t muster the words. Once this is asked it will force them to think about what they are saying and because your sales curiosity is not offensive, they may realize themselves that there is nothing to think about.
“…what needs to happen for you to make a decision about this?”
Putting off decisions is human nature, often we do it even if it’s not in our own best interest. When it comes to this point it helps your counterpart run through in their own mind the steps in the process. Their defense mechanism was to tell you they needed to wait, but this gets them thinking about what they are waiting for which allows them to make decision on their own.
“what is it that’s stopping you from moving forward with this right now?
This phrase will help to bring out and answer one of three questions. Is there truly something holding them up that maybe they were not open about previously? Are they ready to move forward but they just felt the need to push back? Or, are they telling you no without telling you. The answer to either of these questions will address your sales curiosity and help you move forward.
Thought provoking questions allows your counterpart to feel in control while shifting the conversation to your court. Asking a question will cause them to rephrase what they have been telling you and perhaps to disclose more information than they originally intended. Great questions like those from Phil M. Jones allow you to get real answers and real progress.