When you read a book then see the movie, which is typically better? Most people would agree that the book is better. Why? Because the ability to come up with your own view of the characters, how you see them, what exactly the scene looks like, etc. is all part of your own interpretation of the story. Your own view is always more powerful and impactful because it’s yours. Not only do we see the story more clearly, but we are able to make it ours. As humans, that is important in believing what is presented to us.
In sales, we often tell prospects why they should do business with us. And why not? We know better, right? It’s our product/service that we are talking about. They don’t know all the benefits of the product. They don’t know the best way to use it and how it’s helped others. We need to tell them that. We often feel that it is our job to express to our prospects what is best for them. Think about that. We believe that, because we know our product or service, we know how our customers will use it best. How presumptuous of us!
It is a true skill to help your prospects understand how best to use your product or service without actually telling them. The self-realization of the best way you can help them solve their problem is through a series of thought-provoking questions. I call these questions advantage questions. Advantage questions are the idea of taking your advantage and asking it as a question to get the prospect to self-realize that they need what you have and why – if, in fact, they do.
An example of this might be a Web designer trying to get across the ability to attract a larger audience to a shoe store that has always sold to a geographic audience. What might be said is: “If you have your shoes online, lots of people outside your town could also have the ability to see and buy them.” (That’s the movie.) A better way to get this prospect to self-realize this advantage might be to ask: “If you had the ability to attract customers outside of the town that most come from now, how might that help you grow your business?” (That’s the book.) Now, it forces the prospect to think about how she would best utilize this advantage and think about how it would really help her business.
I worked with a really cool company that sells beautiful, high-end travel gear. It has field representatives who work right on the floor with the retail sales representatives to help with questions, etc. We changed that into the following advantage question: “Share with me how it might help to have non-paid experts working with your retail sales staff on the floor to help sell your high-end products.”
This allows prospects to think for themselves and come up with their own ideas on how the advantages of your product or service might help them and their business. So, are you sharing a book or a movie?
Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Training and Consulting in West Palm Beach, Florida. She is the author of “To Sell is Not to Sell” and a national columnist. To sign up for her newsletter email to: [email protected]
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