Getting Your Prospect to Talk

Michele Warg
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Getting a sales prospect to talk is an art form that some of the best salespeople in the world rely on, even in the middle of the best sales script. All you have to do is remember a few basic tenets about human behavior in order to turn around a reticent lead simply by letting them talk.

When a sales prospect starts to stall as you go through your sales pitch, change tactics and let the person respond. The trick is to alter your tone with open-ended questions. Queries that require simple yes or no answers include "Does this sound good to you?" or "Can I get continue with a few of our product details?" Unfortunately, these queries don't reveal much information about the sales lead, and they allow the prospect to categorically refuse to continue the pitch. It's better to get people talking properly.

Timing is the key to open-ended questions with a sales prospect. Sit down with a friend or colleague and practice a few scripts for this situation; see how effective your sales pitch becomes with each conversation. Ask a few questions to receive positive or negative feedback, and study this feedback later to figure out how to proceed in a real-life situation.

1. "What's Your Gut Feeling?"

Once you deliver your sales pitch, talk to the sales prospect about gut feelings. For example: "We all buy emotionally and go with our gut feelings when we make purchases. What does your gut tell you about our opportunity?"

After you ask a question that gets someone talking, simply listen. The prospect probably needs a moment or two to think because now he has some unexpected time to give you real feedback. Take note of the response.

The point of taking notes is so you can nurture some leads. The more the person talks, the more information you have. Weigh your options with these types of sales prospects: larger companies may present better sales opportunities than smaller firms, but only if they are open to your offer. Keep your return on investment in mind as you go through a sales pitch.

2. "How Do We Compare?"

Ask a simple question: "I'm sure you're thinking about offers from our competitors. How does my proposal sound compared to others?" This question has two purposes. You gauge what other offers the lead has on the table, and you determine how to improve your own pitch.

3. "What Reasons Do You Have?"

Bring in Ben Franklin to the conversation. "Have you heard of Ben Franklin's way of making decisions?" Wait for a yes or no response. Then say, "Ben made a list of the pros and cons of a decision to weigh all of his options. So, could you tell me, what are your reasons for moving forward with this proposal, and what are your reasons not to?" Again, be quiet, listen properly, take notes and present your case after the response.

The point of these questions is to get your sales prospect to open up. Once you have some positive and negative comments in hand, you have the leverage you need to adjust your closing pitch and earn the sale.

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