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There are times in the sales cycles when you realize that the prospect just isn't seeing things the way you are. Perhaps the customer doesn't feel there’s any reason to change, or after a number of promising sales calls, you get total silence. How can you get the results you want without destroying the rapport you've built? Take time to create and prepare anxiety questions that get your prospect thinking differently. At ValueSelling, we consider an anxiety question to be a carefully phrased question that creates some urgency and changes the customer’s perspective. Here are helpful hints for creating anxiety questions: 

  • Develop a scenario based on the business issue.

  Imagine a scenario where you might need to insert an anxiety question. Consider what the competition would be saying to undermine your credibility. Figure out what business issue your product or service can solve. Then, craft a few questions that will lead your prospect to realize that they’ll be in trouble if they don’t have what you offer.  

  • Use a reference story.

  Be informative rather than confrontational. A soft way to insert an anxiety question is to deliver it in the context of a reference story. For example, “I’ve worked with a lot of clients that initially saw things the way you are right now. But what they found was that if they didn’t address this (specific business issue), their total outlay in the long run would be much higher. Have you considered the risk to you/your business of not addressing the problem now?”  

  • Focus on the future.

  Pointing out a person’s past failures might not be a motivator. Get the prospect thinking about the future by keeping them focused on actions that they can engage in today to improve their success in the future. For example, “If you aren’t able to address this problem, how will that impact your business revenue in six months?”  

  • Do your research.

  Anxiety questions can break the link to a solution that is more aligned with a competitive offering. To do so, the questions must come from a fact-based, research perspective. You have to know the prospect’s company, business and industry. Only then can you create thoughtful anxiety questions that lead them to a different perspective.  

  • Maintain rapport.

  During the training classes, a few sales reps will jokingly create anxiety questions such as, “Aren’t you afraid your boss is going to think you’re stupid and fire you?” That might be an actual fear that someone has, and if you ask such a question, you’re more likely to be thrown out of the meeting. Keep in mind that throughout the sales process, you’re coming from a place of assistance. Gauge whether you have rapport. Then, think about whether your question achieves the result you want. Will it insult the buyer or will it help you change their way of thinking while maintaining the relationship?  

  • Manage your own expectations.
  After crafting and delivering the anxiety question, don’t expect the prospect to say, “Oh my goodness, you’re right. I’m ready to buy now.” The goal is to re-engage the prospect. What you want them to say is, “Hmmm. I haven’t considered that. It might be worth my time to talk more about it.” In the end, you want to make sure that your client realizes how imperative it is to take action and do business with you. Anxiety questions help you re-engage the prospect in a conversation. Once you’ve done that, you have a much better shot at qualifying, advancing and following-up on the sale.

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