I attribute, easily, $10 MILLION in sales directly to Lenann... Mark Walton
(Former) Regional Managing Partner – Deloitte Central Europe
 

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Continuing the Conversation with Questions – Part One/Question One

Questions should be used at any stage of the process of selling, even early on at, say, a networking event. Let’s say you’re an accountant/consultant and you meet a chief financial officer for a local manufacturing company at a Chamber of Commerce event. You might glance at her name tag and then engage in this dialogue:

“Hello, Mary Ann! (Or Mary Ann Smith, or Mrs. Smith, whatever it says on her name tag.) I’m Lenann Gardner. Did you enjoy the speaker / dinner / whatever?” (Beginning with a neutral comment at a networking event is always good.)

She might say, “Yes.”

And I’d say: “Glad you enjoyed it. I see you’re with Smith Manufacturing. You’re located out on the south side of town, aren’t you?” (This is easily answered, and is likely to get her talking with you.)

She might say, “Yes, that’s our main plant.”

I’d say, “Your main plant. So you must have more than one.”

She might say, “Three, actually.”

I’d say, “I see. A lot of responsibility to keep track of the financial affairs of three different plants, I’d bet.” (That little flattery builds up her ego a bit. Always be honest when you’re selling, never lie, so if you don’t think that having CFO responsibilities over three different plants is a lot of responsibility, don’t make this remark!)

And she might say, “Yes, it keeps us real busy and a little crazy.”

That’s Pain. Upon hearing Pain, we inquire about it: “Crazy?”

She’s likely to respond, “Well, it’s just the nature of the work, especially at the end of the month.”

I’d say, “So the month end is crazy time. Is that every month?”

She might say, “Pretty much. We’ve lost our senior accountant, so there’s a gap, and I’m pretty much filling it….”

That’s more Pain. So I’d say: “So you’re short staffed, and the responsibility for doing your own job and the senior accountant’s job is falling on you? How would you say your having to wear both hats affects your department?”

That’s an example of powerful question-type number one, from the research of Neil Packham. You can’t pose this question until she’s told you about some Pain she has; prior to that you ask questions in the hope of gathering some Pain, from which to pose this sort of question, asking, in effect, “What does that pain mean to you?”

An important note: at a networking event, you may not have a lot of opportunity to continue a conversation in this way; but if you’re aware of some Pain, you can use that as a reason to ask for an appointment in your prospect’s office.

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