The more information we have about our clients, the better we’ll be able to serve them, and we can begin by asking “stupid questions.”
In 2013, I was working on a speech for Toastmasters and I wanted to talk to everyday people to find out whether or not they think the American Dream is dead.
What better place to find everyday people but on the train?
I was nervous. I didn’t want anyone to yell at me or be rude to me and I certainly didn’t want to get into a political debate.
Eventually, I mustered the courage to ask the guy sitting closest to me for his thoughts. I prepared for the worst but got the exact opposite instead. He answered my question and gave me the insight I needed to put together a great speech.
In today’s episode, I will share ways to overcome the roadblocks we create in our minds so that we can get the information we need to best help our clients.
Dumb, stupid questions
We tell ourselves that our questions are dumb and stupid. When we think that way, we end up with dumb and stupid results. We need to present our questions well so that we can get the right information from our clients.
When we ask only surface-level questions, we get surface-level answers in return.
When we then use those answers to create a quote, we find that the client is not interested or ready.
It is the same situation every time. We worry and feel like we suck at our job. Other people selling the exact same product to the same type of client are performing so much better.
How does this happen?
Clear and meaningful questions
Too often, we are so focused on how we come across to others that we don’t ask the right questions. We don’t want to appear rude or pushy.
Or, we worry that we might embarrass ourselves by asking a question that everyone else already knows the answer to. We also hesitate to “bother” an executive, or challenge the way he already does business even though our suggestions could benefit his organization.
Push the norm
We are afraid to push the norm.
Many executives are surrounded by ‘yes people.’ This creates a void that, as a consultant, you could fill.
To prepare for more clear and meaningful questions, you need to first understand where the questions will lead.
As an example, the brake light on my car went out. I did everything I knew to try to fix it without success. A mechanic, on the other hand, would have the experience and the knowledge to ask me the right questions about my problem in order to isolate the best solution.
I would not assume that any of the questions he asked me were stupid even if I already knew that, of course, I should check the bulb before coming in.
He would be viewed as an expert because he would ask all the necessary questions in order to fix my problem.
The more confident you are on a topic, the less stupid the simple questions will seem in your mind. You will know and understand that people who are not as well-versed on the subject will make mistakes with the small things.
Asking clear and meaningful questions will get you clear and meaningful results.
Know the landscape
Read industry magazines and trade journals of your targeted clients. Know why they need what you are offering.
Study and prepare so that your questions are clear and meaningful. Understand the intricacies of their business. It will make you more effective in presenting your case.
You will be able to ask questions with confidence.
When you know where the questions might lead, and you won’t be afraid to ask them. You will be prepared. Keep the questions simple and clear.
Don’t ever assume that any of them are stupid.
Start Asking “Stupid Questions” episode resources
This episode is brought to you in part by our TSE Certified Sales Training Program, which teaches you to improve your sales skills, find more customers, build stronger value, and close more deals.
The next semester begins in April.
If you’re not familiar with the TSE Certified Sales Training Program, it’s a program designed to help brand new sales reps, as well as those who have been selling forever. The 12-week module offers videos you can watch at your own pace, as well as the option to join a group discussion. It’s broken into three sections: finding, building value, and closing. It’s amazing and it’s fun!
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