Sometime is pays to just be curious. You’re about to go into a sales discovery meeting with a new prospect. Is your mindset more like salesperson with a quota, or someone that’s looking to create new relationships in your professional network? Results suggest that you’re better off playing the role of someone that’s looking to build his or her network. Why? Most business people enjoy conversations where they get to talk about things that are important to their success.
Here are three ways to make sales discovery meetings more engaging for your prospects by just being curious. You’ll walk away with everything you need to effectively position and differentiate whatever you’re selling.
1. Let Buyers Talk About Themselves.
Most people love to talk about themselves. Indulge them. Throw out a light-hearted question or two like, “What’s on your A-list this week?” Then just sit back and listen. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll learn about the customer’s business goals, what’s prompted them to look at products like yours, internal politics, personal agendas and many other things you need to know to gain an edge.
2. Demonstrate Your Ability to be a Resource.
Tell your prospects something they don’t already know. Their assumption is that you deal with many organizations just like theirs. Most of them are curious about what everyone else is doing as a way of gauging their own agenda. Satisfy their curiosity with a valuable insight or two when it’s most appropriate in the conversation. “I’ve spoken with at least five organizations in the past month that are telling me…” Your credibility eliminates any psychological defense mechanisms that buyers have with salespeople and yields further information that’ll be valuable later in the sales process.
3. Preface Your (open-ended) Questions With a Relevant Story or Market Insight That May Not be Common Knowledge.
For example, “Margins in the industry are almost half of what they were 10 years ago and don’t show any signs of changing direction. What are you doing to reverse the trend and get some of that margin back?” Stay away from (closed-end) leading product questions like, “Is it a problem for you when your data doesn’t reside in a single repository?”
When you’re in a sales situation, the most important thing to remember is this: your prospects are going to do whatever they need to do to succeed. During the discovery phase, pretend your company and its products don’t exist and just be curious enough to find out what prospects are doing to succeed, and more importantly, why. The bulls-eye for whatever you’re selling will come into focus very quickly.