People who love to talk make great sales people, right? In a world with tweets of 140 characters or less and TikTok videos that have a 15 second limit, we don’t have much time to catch the attention of our customers. As a sales person…and by the way, EVERYONE is a sales person, our opportunity to make an impact is small. On top of that, research that analyzes successful sales people has demonstrated that the more the customer speaks, the more likely the customer is to buy.
So, what’s the answer? From my experience, the statement of fact + open-ended question is the most simple, yet impactful tool in the bag.
The statement of fact points the conversation in the direction we would like to go. The open-ended question allows us to gain insight and perspective on the thoughts, goals, and motivators our customers have. There is not time to spend the limited seconds we have to engage our customer on something that isn’t relevant to them, so let them tell us what is.
For a solar panel salesman, it may look like this, “the climbing cost of electricity is a significant burden for many households within the Phoenix Valley. How do those increased electric rates impact your family?”
The statement of fact highlights a problem. The open-ended question brings that problem to full consciousness of thought as the customer thinks through how to answer the question. That creates a selling opportunity.
I’m sure you’re asking, “so how is this used for a non-salesperson in real life? You said EVERYONE is a sales person, Travis.”
That’s right, I did.
In an office setting, with a goal of creating a family type atmosphere, an office manager may say to the receptionist, “you have such an incredible smile this morning. Tell me about what has made your day so great.”
The statement of fact compliments the receptionist’s smile, which, by itself, increases personal connection and brings down the guard of our customer. This statement, in addition to the request to tell me about, directs the conversation towards positive experiences, which improves the positive feeling, connection, and culture in an office.
A husband can use this same approach with a goal of rekindling a connection that has begun to wane with his wife. The statement of fact and question may look like this:
“You take such great care of our family. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you for that. Tell me about your favorite memories with your family growing up and what meant the most to you during that time.“
The statement of fact shows appreciation and acknowledges the efforts his wife makes for their family. The open-ended request continues this positive dialogue around remembering the best family times his wife experienced during her childhood. I have seen this approach break down the walls that we as couples sometimes place around ourselves and literally rekindle positive feelings towards one another…and yes, I’ve deployed this tactic, successfully might I add, on more than one occasion. I LOVE YOU HONEY!
A nurse may say to her patient, “you have had quite a run of bad luck with your health lately. You have been incredibly strong through all of this. Tell me about what gives you so much strength?” In this scenario, the nurse is trying to get the patient to remember what she is fighting for. The more the patient internalizes her “why,” the more likely she is to overcome the health problems that have plagued her.
When it comes to the actual selling message, listen as the customer speaks and answers the questions already asked. Take mental notes to tailor the brief, simple, and specific selling message to what is most important to that customer. The answer to why our product, concept, or service should be boiled down to 30 seconds or less and should be followed by an open-ended question, which again, brings this message to full consciousness of thought for the customer. Full consciousness of thought is where real change occurs.
For the examples mentioned above, the brief selling message + open-ended question could look like this:
Solar Panels: “Optimal Solar cuts electricity bills by 75%, which is the most cost efficient energy plan in the state. What would saving most of that money going out on electricity mean to your family?”
Office Culture: Learning more about the people we work with and supporting each other in goals each person has is important. I would like our office to feel like a family. What ideas do you have that can help us achieve that?
Rekindling a Relationship: I want to learn more about what was great in your life and to truly understand what’s most important to you today to improve the connection we have as a couple. You are important to me. What else can you tell me about great experiences in your life and how that has shaped what is important to you today?
Nurse Advocate: Those who are able to find what it is they are fighting for recover so much better than those that don’t. What do you feel is the best way to help other patients find that purpose?
There are complex issues that may require a lot of dialogue and explanation after the customer is fully engaged, but until we catch the attention of our customer, the dialogue should be simple and specific. When we do elaborate, the simple and specific summary points should be a focus at the beginning and at the end of the conversation to increase impact of the selling points most important to this individual customer.
Excerpts from EMPOWERMENT through Sales, a proven, simple, and widely applicable formula to positively shape the world around you, by Travis N. Jensen and CYFworld Press. For information on the upcoming publication subscribe at CYFworld.com