Some time ago, I was sitting comfortably in a sun filled conference room in a suburb of Atlanta, GA. The meeting had barely started when one of my prospects was temporarily called out of the room. This was my chance to speak with the CEO on a more personal basis and outside of the formality of the meeting.
I turned to him, swallowed hard, and asked, “What most impresses you when you meet with someone, like me, who would like to earn your business?” I wanted to know what their current service providers were doing that kept his company coming back to them again and again.
He pauses to consider his answer. He looks me directly in the eye with a “cut to the chase” style and says, “I can always tell how experienced and insightful a prospective consultant is by the quality of their questions and how intently they listen. For me, it is that simple. And most of them - fail.”
This is when I realized that I must get good at asking questions. I began to pay more attention to what questions I was asking prospects. This skill is something that I took with me when I left corporate and started my own business. I have since discovered a truth in his reply to me that day.
No matter what we are selling, or whether it is a $10 or $10,000 item, then there is always a better question to ask. There is what I call a Power Question that I can ask a prospect that will rock her world and differentiate me from other people she has talked to about a product.
Our English word 'Power' is derived from the Greek word Dunamis, meaning power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature. The kind of power that can alter how your prospects view their current situation and open a space in their minds to trust you, then buy from you.
A Power Question is one that prompts your prospects to spend ten minutes or more thoughtfully answering for themselves - more than you.
A colleague of mine was at a high-profile luncheon with Bonnie, who owns one of the largest woman-owned businesses in the U.S. and was once a U.S. Ambassador. Bruce asked her a Power Question - "What is the most profound and difficult question that you have been asked?" Bonnie replied, "Someone asked me once, 'What difference will your footsteps make a hundred years from now?"
Then, according to Bruce, she spent about ten minutes answering how she hopes to make a significant difference in her lifetime that will have an impact for generations.
One Power Question. A ten-minute response.
Within one Power Question asked to your prospects is the ability to:
- unlock awareness for them
- establish trust in your relationship
- influence their willingness to buy from you
It is not your marketing brochure. It is not your service. It is not a product sample. It is not a testimonial. None of these things single-handedly creates your receiving a sale. Each of these things aids your prospects to buy from you; however, a single Power Question is what creates the conditions for your prospects to pay attention to your marketing brochure or product sample….to listen to you talk about your product.
Power Questions quickly earn you respect when you first meet someone and that is the first step toward building a trusting relationship. Here is a Good – Better – Best example of a question that evolves into a Power Question.
Good – Now, I have talked some about my product, is it something you are interested in?
Better – What will you gain by buying this product from me?
Best – Why is my product important to you right now?
Today's Tip: Listen to your prospects with all that you can … include your heart. Be fully present to what they are choosing to tell you. Then, ask your prospects a Power Question, especially if this is the first meeting with them.