You’ve labored for months with a prospect who seemed interested in your services. She returned calls and replied promptly to emails. Everything was moving right along and then…nothing. Nada. Radio silence. No returned calls or emails. And no explanations.
Frantically, you mentally retrace your steps and re-read email threads to find clues behind this maddening silence. Finally, she calls…but only to explain that she’s had second thoughts, looked into alternatives, and is now leaning toward a competitor.
Sound heart-breakingly familiar?
Take a deep breath – The high-performing sales professional will be prepared since it’s not uncommon for a prospect to reconsider a big decision. This is the time to reassure them of the role you’ve already established as a trusted advisor. By asking the right questions, you will help them to revisit their initial interest and provoke new thought so that they draw their own conclusion to do business with you.
In situations like this it is time to introduce some anxiety to the buyer. When asked correctly, anxiety questions will lead a person to open their mind to possibility and to re-open the conversation. There are a number of times when an anxiety question may be required:
- When the client does not recognize or share the issues and problems that can create need for your solution
- When the client seems to be leaning toward a competitive alternative
- When there are consequences to status quo that may not be realized
- When the client seems to be unwilling to focus on anything but price
- To create a sense of urgency
Recently I was coaching a sales rep who had developed a solid rapport with a decision maker. Late in the buying cycle, the prospect had a change of heart. To re-engage, we prepared a few anxiety questions such as, “What is the implication to you if you save money on the initial investment only to find the solution you choose isn’t as reliable as you expect? What could be the unanticipated ramification of a decline in your service level? Could your reputation be at risk?”
These carefully crafted questions made the prospect think about the consequences if our sales rep’s services were not secured. They momentarily experienced the anxiety they would feel if they made the wrong choice, in this case going with the competition. We challenged their current thinking without insulting their intelligence or damaging the trust and credibility the sales rep had established.
What was the result? The anxiety questions re-opened the conversation and gave the rep an opportunity to focus on differentiation, value and mitigating any risk to the prospect. In the end, our rep won the business and the now client experienced great success with the implementation!
A ValueSelling Framework® core principle is that “people need a reason to change.” Change is difficult for many because of the perceived risks and uncertainty. You can’t force a person to change. But you can help a person better understand their business issues and realize, on their own, the need to change direction.
Anxiety questions are the perfect antidote when you need to uncover what the prospect might not have considered and reveal the consequences. Well-placed anxiety questions can create opportunities for you to steer prospects back around to your solution.
For an in-depth refresher on when to ask an anxiety question and how to create them, register for the ValueSelling Associates September 15 webinar, “Using Anxiety Questions to Finish the Year Strong.”
Sell with Value!