Have you ever had to change a prospect’s, or customer’s mind?
Picture this — you have been working with a prospect for some time and all is going well and moving forward. Suddenly, your calls and emails are no longer being returned. What has happened?
After more time goes by – you finally connect with the prospect only to hear the following:
“After the time you spent with me, I decided to explore some alternatives – I am now leaning towards doing business with your competition, rather than you and your company.”
While you may not have experienced this exact scenario, one day you may. Many times, our role as sales professionals is to educate and persuade for the purpose of changing someone’s mind. A fundamental principle in ValueSelling is that “people need a reason to change.” Before we can even create any sales cycle or qualified prospect, we must create or uncover a reason for our prospects to change. This same principle can be applied to changing someone’s mind if they are leaning toward a competitive alternative.
The key to effectively changing someone’s mind is to begin a conversation that raises conditions, consequences, or implications to the surface, especially those they’re not aware of and haven’t considered Rather than tell the prospect that their conclusion may be flawed or incomplete, initiate the conversation by asking a question that will raise some anxiety in order to open a dialogue.
Well-placed “anxiety” questions in a sales cycle can provoke new thought within a number of scenarios:
- 1. Raising a business issue or “reason” to change from the prospect’s perspective.
2. Placing doubt in the prospect’s mind that a competitive alternative to your products or services will provide them more value than yours.
3. Creating urgency for your prospect to act sooner rather than later.
The concept of an “anxiety” question is to engage your prospect in a conversation, a dialogue – rather than to lecture them on the virtues of your capabilities. To create anxiety questions, begin with a complete understanding of the benefit or value of your capabilities and business practices.
If you know that your solution is more reliable than the competition – your product breaks less often and is easier to service -you may try to create “anxiety” around that fact.
Rather than asking the innocuous question: “Is reliability important to you?” (This won’t give you any real insight or cause the prospect to think differently.)
“Have you considered the cost or consequence to the/your business if this device/machine is out of service?”
Based on how this particular question is answered, you are now in a conversation about reliability, serviceability and the differences between you and your competition, as well as the impact of those differences.
The key to a good “anxiety” question is to phrase it in a way that the prospect momentarily experiences the consequence of NOT having your product or service. These questions are designed to challenge the prospect’s current thinking without insulting anyone’s intelligence or damaging the rapport you have established with a prospect or customer.
Many of our clients phrase “anxiety” questions with either a reference to third-party research or existing client/customer references.
“A recent Wall Street Journal article concludes that many companies in your industry will be consolidating facilities, how prepared is your company for that consolidation?”
“Our Clients have told us that one key reason they migrated to our products was our 24X7 customer service organization. What happens today when you need customer service on weekends?”
Our goal is to help our clients and prospects come to their own conclusions favoring our products and services. Rather than telling them again and again what we do that is different and/or unique, we want to ask questions that prompt them to consider the importance of our uniqueness.
Anxiety questions open the dialogue to new possibilities in a sales cycle. They are provocative and raise conditions that the prospect may not have considered. They are focused on the future rather than the past and are phrased in a way that will not damage the rapport you have established. Remember, the key to effectively changing someone’s mind is to begin a conversation that raises conditions, consequences, or implications to the surface, especially those they’re not aware of and haven’t considered.
By asking anxiety questions you can effectively change someone’s mind about their purchasing decisions.