The Most Powerful Word in Selling

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

Businessman with strong shadowSo, you’ve got to the point where you’re ready to present the price and everything’s going well. You think you’ve covered everything and the customer seems happy with the product.

They are waiting with baited breath to hear what the investment is going to be.

You tell them.

There’s a sharp intake of breath, and the immortal words, “You’ll have to do better than that!

I was out with a sales consultant on a call a few days ago when this scenario actually occurred. How would you have responded?

The consultant I was with said “Well, if you place an order today, I might be able to stretch to a 20% discount. But it has to be today!”

I just shuddered.

The final result was that the customer got 25% off, extra warranty and better payment terms. And he agreed to buy ‘today’.

I asked the sales consultant as we walked back to the car why he felt the need to offer discount immediately. He said the prospect was obviously going to buy if the price was right, so he made it easy for him to buy.

I asked why did he feel the prospect wanted discount. After a few seconds of silence, the consultant groaned “I don’t know…I didn’t ask!”

And that was the crux of it all. He didn’t ask the one fundamental question that would have given him the chance to find out more information and discuss further opportunities. And that one question is the simple one-word “Why?”.

Now you can package it up with other words around it if it sounds better (“Do you mind me asking why I have to do better?”, “May I ask why you say that?”) but basically you’re asking for a reason for the statement or objection.

The answer to this question will reveal a whole multitude of situations that you can deal with.

Prospect: “You’ll have to do better on the price!”

You: “I see. May I ask why you want a better price?”

Prospect: “Because we don’t have the budget”. Or “Because your competitor is cheaper”. Or “Because I never pay top price for anything”

Now you have the real reason why they asked and you can deal with it.

This one-word question will clarify any generalistic statement the prospect makes, and enable you to find out exactly how the process can be continued. And that can only be good for business!

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 24 September, 2010

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