Written by Sean McPheat |
There’s a saying that sums up where most people’s careers end up, and it goes something like “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up anywhere”.
And it’s also true when you’re having a conversation with a prospect. The amount of information you obtain from them is concurrent with the quality of the questions you ask.
When we consider the type of questions that we ask of a prospect, we seldom think about the structure or the flow of the question. What I mean by this is we may go armed with a list of the information we want from the conversation, but we don’t always think about how we are going the build the questioning process. So we often just come out with a question that sounds ok, but doesn’t position it for the prospect or doesn’t add to the converstaion.
So you might want to try looking at the quality of your questioning technique, and I’ve got some tips that might help you achieve just that.
Called the ‘questioning framework‘, it gives you ideas that will help you produce powerful questions that help hit the mark and achieve end goals.
The framework consists of talking about the ‘event‘ that triggered the situation or the change, the ‘question‘ that will drive their thinking, the ‘person’ or ‘persons‘ who will be affected, and the actions that need to be taken.
It sounds a little complicated but some examples will make it simpler.
Imagine you’re talking about insurance to a prospect. It’s going well, but you want the prospect to actually make a decision. Here’s a question you could ask that covers all four elements mentioned above.
“When you think about your family’s future, how valuable would it be for you to have peace of mind that their needs are taken care of if anything should happen?’
The ‘event’ is covered first, then the question of value, then the person (you) and finally the action that will drive behaviour.
Here’s another example. Let’s assume your business prospect is thinking about developing their staff. Here’s a question that will make them think:
‘As you develop your staff’s skills, would it be more cost-effective for you and the board to have a continuous programme assisted by e-learning and coaching?’
Those four elements cover all the points you want to make with a prospect, without putting them under any pressure. It makes them identify what the most important and value areas to consider are, and aids them in making specific decisions with your help.
Think about the types of questions you can ask that will fit this framework and see if it makes a difference to the way you gain information.
Originally published: 3 December, 2013