By Greta Schulz
I was recently conducting training over lunch with a group of professionals who are all successful in their careers. We discussed the importance of asking good questions during a meeting with a prospect. That way, you’re able to learn exactly what the prospect is looking for before you present your recommendations.
As we talked, one of the men in the room — who brings in a lot of new business — shared this story.
A Chinese buyer was looking to do business on the East Coast of the United States, and a company had been asked to make a presentation on how the buyer could accomplish that goal. The company’s team decided its strategy would be to emphasize its global presence. The team worked on a detailed and elaborate presentation.
After making its presentation to a group of people who had flown in from China, the group learned it was not being awarded the account.
The reason: The Chinese buyer was looking for a company that had a good understanding of the U.S. East Coast market.
The company that lost the account had a great understanding of that market. But it chose the wrong angle for its presentation. It assumed it knew what the buyer was looking for, without asking first.
It’s amazing how often that happens. Somewhere along the way, we are taught to focus on our knowledge of our company’s product or service. Either our training has guided us in that direction or we’ve had a few clients who told us one particular aspect of our company’s product or service is the chief reason they bought from us.
Granted, it is important to understand your company’s product in detail. But the reason why that’s important is so you can ask really good questions of prospects, to determine if they view those product traits as important. They may not.
The moral of the story: You need to know what questions you should be asking prospects so you can customize your recommendations regarding their needs.
Sometimes the best thing we have going for us is all of our experience and knowledge of our product and service.
But that knowledge and experience is often the worst thing we have going for us because we assume we know why people buy.
We all know what happens when we assume. There are a number of questions you should be asking to dig deeper into the real reason someone will choose you over the competition.
Or you can spend a lot of time working on a presentation and hoping you’ve made the correct assumptions.
Which approach do you want to take?
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August 19, 2012 //
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