19 Benefits of Asking Questions

January 28th, 2020

19 Benefits of Asking QuestionsIf you’re a regular reader of this blog (and if you’re not, you can be—just click one of the “Subscribe” links to the right, wink, wink, nudge, nudge), you know that I’m a big fan of asking questions. When I conduct sales training seminars, I typically give audiences 20 to 40 questions to ask their prospects. Because questions are extraordinarily powerful.

Asking questions can:

1. Help you understand wants and needs
2. Reveal hidden criteria
3. Uncover opportunities
4. Enable you to shorten your presentation
5. Demonstrate interest
6. Make you look smart
7. Make the prospect feel smart
8. Provide clarity
9. Eliminate uncertainty and doubt
10. Cause the prospect to consider other possibilities
11. Create opportunities for empathy and rapport
12. Build trust
13. Keep the prospect engaged
14. Spur them to think
15. Uncover fears and concerns
16. Confirm suspicions
17. Challenge assumptions
18. Help prioritize
19. Ensure the right purchase

And yet, too many salespeople, business owners, and professionals miss all these benefits because they don’t ask anywhere near enough questions. They’re in too much of a hurry to get to their presentation so they can awe their prospect by reciting all the incredible features and benefits of their stupendous product or service. Which the prospect typically doesn’t care about.

What does the prospect truly care about? Themselves.

Which is precisely why questions are so powerful.

So when you’re at a networking event, ask more questions. When you’re meeting with a new prospect, ask more questions. When you encounter an objection or an impasse, ask more questions. The more time you invest asking questions, the less time you will need to spend on every other step of the sales process.

By the way, the benefits of asking questions aren’t limited to salespeople working with prospects. They also apply to leaders interacting with people in their organizations, and to anyone else dealing with co-workers, friends, and family. (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.)

Become a big fan of questions yourself and reap the myriad benefits. The more questions you ask, the more success you’ll achieve.

Don’t Tell Your Customers to Have a Great Night

January 21st, 2020

Don’t Tell Your Customers to Have a Great NightIt had been a rough night.

It was supposed to have been a great night. It was the first class of a three-day aikido seminar featuring one of my favorite instructors. Unfortunately, his flight was severely delayed, which resulted in that evening’s class starting and finishing late. Which meant that we went to dinner late, and by the time I dropped one of my classmates off at his house, it was pushing midnight.

That’s when things got really bad.

Driving home, I hit a nasty pothole that blew out one of my tires. I pulled over to change it—in sub-freezing temperatures—and encountered a problem. I called my insurance company’s roadside assistance for help. The person who arrived did his best, but was unable to resolve the issue. So I needed a tow. I called roadside assistance again to make the arrangements. Due to the lateness of the hour, it took several calls back and forth to take care of everything.

Now the people I spoke with at roadside assistance were wonderful, and I’m grateful to them for their help, their professionalism, and their courtesy. There was just one tiny, little detail that could have used improvement.

At the end of every call, the person said to me, “Have a great night.”

It was after 2 o’clock in the morning. I was dirty. I was freezing. I was exhausted. I was facing a 45-minute wait for a tow truck, followed by an Uber ride home, and only a few hours’ sleep before class early that morning. There was precisely zero chance I was going to have a great night. And being told to have one felt like salt being poured in an open wound.

I understand why they said it. They had been trained to. But that’s bad training. Because it replaces empathy with insincerity. In the company’s efforts to ensure every call ends on a positive note, they actually ensured many—if not most—end on a sour one.

What would have been a better way to end each call? Almost anything! At least, anything that acknowledged my situation and emotional state:

• “Hang in there.”
• “We’re here if you need anything else.”
• “Hope everything goes smoothly from here on out.”
• “It’s gonna be okay.”
• “Praying for you.”
• “Call me back if you want to talk.”
• “Hope tomorrow is better.”

All of those statement convey empathy. And that’s what connects you—and your people—to your customers.

Should your salespeople, customer service reps, and technicians be positive when interacting with clients? Absolutely! At the same time, however, they need to exhibit empathy with them, especially when things are going wrong. Otherwise, their positivity comes across as tone-deafness and insensitivity.

So when you train your people—and you should train your people—don’t have them memorize banalities and regurgitate them mindlessly. Teach them how to be empathetic and emotionally intelligent. It takes more time and effort, but it will create better customer engagement, improving the customer experience.

And prevent them from making a customer’s bad night ever-so-slightly-worse.

21 Things Successful People Say Regularly

January 14th, 2020

21 Things Successful People Say RegularlyAs a professional keynote speaker and trainer, I have a tremendous appreciation and respect for the power of words. The right words at the right time can solve problems, heal wounds, create connection, or move people to action. They are essential to your sales, business, and personal success.

Whether you’re a salesperson, manager, or business owner, here are 21 of the best things you can say on a regular basis.

1. “You’re right.”
2. “I agree.”
3. “I see.”
4. “I understand.”
5. “What do you think?”
6. “You can do it.”
7. “That’s a good idea.”
8. “Can you help me?”
9. “Great job!”
10. “I trust you.”
11. “Go for it.”
12. “I’d love to get your input.”
13. “How can I help?”
14. “Tell me more.”
15. “I’m sorry.”
16. “I was wrong.”
17. “What can I do to support you?”
18. “Please.”
19. “Thank you.”
20. “I appreciate you.”
21. “What if…?”

Every one of these phrases has immense power to affect others positively. Which enables them to be more confident, effective, enthusiastic, forgiving, creative, and action-oriented.

Use these phrases frequently with customers, employees, vendors, friends, and family. They will strengthen your business and personal relationships as well as boost your sales, productivity, and happiness.

This success strategy requires no money, no physical labor, no massive time investment. Just a few words. Powerful words.

Who is Your Ideal Client?

January 7th, 2020

Who is Your Ideal Client?Everyone in business wants more customers. But not all customers are created equal. Some are better for you than others. And if you’re going after more clients, it behooves you to focus your time, money, and energy on those clients who will provide you with the biggest return on your efforts.

Which means in your marketing and prospecting efforts, you want to target not just any potential buyers, but your ideal buyers. Who are those exactly? Well, it depends.

“Ideal” is a subjective word. It can mean different things to different people. It could refer to those clients who:

• Buy the greatest volume
• Are the most profitable
• Buy most frequently
• Are the easiest to close
• Have been with you the longest
• Give you the most referrals
• Are the easiest to deal with
• Provide you with the most interesting and challenging work, or
• Are the most fun to work with

Which of those do you most want more of? Those are the prospects you want to pursue. (And yes, you can pick two or even three of these of these categories to go after.)

How do you find them? Start by examining your client list and identify the customers who fit the description you’ve chosen. Then, determine what they have in common, being as thorough and as detailed as possible. That will give you an Ideal Client Profile.

Use this profile whenever you create marketing pieces, develop prospecting plans, or decide what events to attend. Your Ideal Client Profile is also helpful when coming up with new products or services to offer.

This is not to say that these will be the only customers you serve. Heck, if somebody who doesn’t fit one of these categories calls you up and asks to buy something, you’re not gonna say no. But in your prospecting and marketing, these are the clients you’re going to target. Since you have a limited supply of time, money and energy, spending them going after your ideal customers will result in more sales, profits, cash flow, and satisfaction.