Would you like a question that is virtually guaranteed to get your prospect to open up and respond to you?
Once you've finally reached your prospect and delivered your opening statement, the next most challenging aspect of the call is to ask a question that not only intrigues your prospect but engages him or her. It is here the interest is maintained or lost. Squander the moment and your prospect will wriggle off the call.
So, what's a good question to ask?
The Perfect Question
Here is the single most effective prospecting question you can ask,
" __________, let me ask, are you absolutely, 100% satisfied with .... (fill in key area of concern where you might be able to help).
Here are some examples to illustrate how the question can be adapted and delivered:
An investment adviser might ask,
"Jennifer, let me ask, are you absolutely 100% satisfied with the performance of your portfolio over the last 12 months?"
A personnel recruiter might ask,
"Jackson, let me ask, are you absolutely 100% satisfied with the quality of the recruits you've hired over the last 6-8 months?"
A sales trainer might ask,
"Andrea, let me ask, are you absolutely 100% satisfied with the sales results your teams produced over the past year (or quarter or half year ...whatever)?"
A professional marketing consultant might ask a dentist,
"Dr. Maynard, let me ask, are you absolutely 100% satisfied with the results of your marketing efforts in generating new patients over the past year?"
Why It Works
The question works because it is asking the prospect to evaluate virtually any situation and assess whether it is 'perfect' (100%). It's almost rhetorical in nature because most - but not all- prospects will not admit to perfection. They like to think that there is room for improvement even if their results are decent. So, in other words, it almost always reveals a need or want. If you're prospecting, that's music to your ears. It's a wedge in the door.
You will discover that the manner of response will vary from prospect to prospect. Some will be candid and frank and give you a definitive, "no, I am not." We like these kinds of prospects because they are revealing a strong need or want.
Others will quip, "You're kidding, right?" or they might be sarcastic and say, "Oh ya, absolutely satisfied. Couldn't be better!" In other words, 'of course, they're not perfect.' At this stage, you can lighten the moment by remarking, "I know ... it's a bit of a loaded question but most people I speak with are looking for improvement."
When you respond in a light mannered fashion it tends to break the ice and move the questioning onto a different level. It is less formal, less stiff. Friendlier. It's a bit different and helps set you apart
What if They Are 100%, Completely Satisfied?
There are those who will respond that they are completely, utterly satisfied with no sarcasm whatsoever. Some are serious. They are NOT experiencing any problems and they ARE 100% satisfied. In this case, there might not be a want or need, and very quickly you have disqualified the prospect. You save time and effort.
On the other hand, you could reply, "I'm glad to hear that. Most HR directors I speak with aren't quite so content. But suppose you could improve on that?" In other words, you are appealing not to the 'pain' motivator (dissatisfaction) but rather the 'gain' motivator (doing EVEN better).
Speaking of 'even better,' there are a few other elements that can make this question even more effective. First, use the prospect's name. The name gets their attention and gets them to closely listen to the next fifteen or so words.
The little trigger phrase, "let me ask," prepares your prospect for the question. It gives them a little time to tune into the fact that a question is forthcoming. This heightens awareness.
Third, ask the question and then go silent. Let them digest the question and respond accordingly. Resist the temptation to elaborate on the question (e.g., by giving an example). Let the silence do the work.
Fourth, gauge the response. Listen carefully to the tone. You'll discover some are amused with the question since they know it is 'loaded.' Respond in the same light tone. Others will be more serious, respond accordingly.
Seriously, this is one of the most powerful and effective questions you can ask. It invariably gets the client to open up. Use it.
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