By Kathy Sisk
It’s important to let your prospects know the purpose of your telephone call – without being too specific – in order to release any negative curiosity and ease doubt in their minds. Just as in Step Two, you need to use an approach or hook, an interesting catchy statement, without sounding too pushy. Your objective is to arouse interest so you can keep your prospect’s mind actively listening. There are two functions in this step: making the benefit statement and obtaining permission to ask questions.
The benefit statement: “I’m following up on the information I personally sent you. In order for this information to be more effective…”
The benefit statement gives the prospect a reason why you need to ask questions. If you provide a clear understanding of the need for this information, the prospect is then freer to participate in your probing step and give you the response you’re looking for so that you can continue with your presentation.
Obtaining permission to ask questions: “I need (pause) to ask you just a couple of quick questions, if you don’t mind” or “I need (pause) to verify some information, if you don’t mind.”
One of these two statements is always used; this second function never changes. Use it exactly as written. “I need” shows a sense of urgency. The strategic pause after “I need” will have your prospects unconsciously asking themselves, “You need what?” Proper use of voice inflection (a rise in tone) when you emphasize the words “just” and “quick” tells prospects you will not take up much of their time. They need to know that!
The phrase “if you don’t mind” makes the statement less threatening and serves to show respect. If they do mind, then you would go back to your easy close and try another time. Be sure not to make the “if you don’t mind” phrase a question by raising your voice inflection on the word mind. If you do, you will weaken the effect and encourage a negative response; you give up your control when you ask permission. Also, be sure to smile when you say “…if you don’t mind.” Smiling makes a big difference in your voice projection and slightly softens the approach.
The benefit statement is purposely used as a lead-in to asking questions. Putting these two functions together results in the following examples:
- “My company wants to get a better feel for the market. In order for us to continue providing better service, I need (pause) to ask you just a couple of quick questions, if you don’t mind.”
- “I have several clients in your industry that have expressed an interest in our services. So that we can continue providing excellent service, I need (pause) to verify some information, if you don’t mind.”
- “Our company concentrates our advertising in this area. In order for us to determine (pause) how effective it is, I need (pause) to ask you just a couple of quick questions, if you don’t mind.”
Using both functions – the benefit statement and obtaining permission to ask questions – will avoid prompting your prospects to be cautious of your request for information. They will be more receptive to participating in your next step, probing, which has been your main objective from the beginning. The probing step is the time to get to know your prospects better, qualify them, find out what their motivation factors are, and create a need for your products and services. The art of asking questions is vital to your presentation and is the foundation that helps you to sell, generate quality leads, and set appointments. This includes asking open-ended questions, which will be covered in the next issue.
Kathy Sisk is president of Kathy Sisk Enterprises Inc.
[From Connection Magazine – December 2011]