Have you changed your Punctuation?

questionmarkI recently overheard a coaching session focused on a sales call. When I heard the coach state “..we need to change our punctuation from ! (Exclamations) to ? (Questions)” I began to think about his point.

As sales professionals, what would the impact be if we spent more time asking questions as opposed to exclaiming the benefits of our products? Why is it that many times we lead with exclamation points as opposed to question marks? I can certainly understand our excitement to tell a prospect about our great product or service, but why do so many salespeople skip the asking and head right into the telling?

What are your expected reaction when telling features and benefits up front if your product means nothing to a prospect unless it solves THEIR problem? Selling to someone is not about you, it’s about them. Using exclamation points puts the focus on US! Question marks allow your prospect to realize the magnitude of their pain and the need for a solution! This level of realization will never happen if you’re always using exclamation points. The more powerful the questions, the deeper the realization that you understand and can help achieve success with your product or service.

It doesn’t matter how excited you are about telling someone the finer points of YOUR product, if YOU don’t know what matters to THEM.

What can we do to ask better questions? If you only begin questions with three different words (Why, How, What), the difference will be substantial and immediate. Using powerful open ended questions not only uncovers vital information, but also positions you as a truly invested partner in the discovery process. Softball questions are never impactful enough for your prospect to get themselves to you.

As opposed to telling a prospect about how great your product(s) is, how it will impact them, and how you’re “better”, before knowing what their true pain is, try positioning simple open ended questions at the front of the conversation: ”Why are you looking to change? How do you believe your current situation will be impacted by this change? What is the desired outcome once you make this change?”

How will making this change from telling with exclamation points, to asking open ended, though provoking questions, bring a client or prospect to the realization they have a true? You’re disrespecting them if the conversation is focused on your product before uncovering their true need. You may close a few of these, but they will certainly not be the big wins you’re really trying to achieve.

Here’s a challenge! Somewhere around your desk post a sheet within view that has a huge question mark on it. Nothing else. Look at it daily. Use the image of the question mark to stop and think of better questions. Write them down and refine them over time. Hold the question mark in your mind while speaking with prospects or clients. Practice the art of asking questions that remain top of mind, all the time and see how quickly the dynamic of your sales calls change for the better.

Never forget that in the discovery phase, questions are really all that matter. If you ask challenging enough questions, you’ll earn the opportunity to get excited to present your solution. That’s the key though, earning your exclamation points with questions. As sales professionals we all love to earn things. Now that’s something worth getting excited about!!!


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