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Approaching the ‘s’ word

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No matter how good your prospecting efforts, you won’t be able to sell unless you master the other end of the sales funnel: the “s” word—you know, “sales.” Whether you’re marketing your services, trying to get a new job or looking for a business partner, at some point, you’ll end up “selling” yourself or your products, whether you like it or not.

If that thought scares you, take heart. Selling is a lot less daunting than you realize. It’s not the drift toward doom you’re imagining. It’s not about manipulating someone into falling down the rabbit hole with you. It’s the asking of appropriate yet provocative questions so that your prospect can determine for himself if he needs what you have to offer.

I tell the professionals I coach that you can get a prospect to divulge anything, if you ask the right questions. Contrary to what many of the great sales gurus of the 20th century preached, closing a sale is usually the least relevant part of the process. Closing can only be accomplished at the end of a series of good questions, such as:

    • “So, should we try this out?”
    • “What do you think the next step is?”
    • “When would you like to begin?”

From the start, ask questions about consequences— questions that elicit emotions and unearth explicit problems—and you’ll be able to convince your prospect early on and by no crooked means that they should be working with you.

    • “How do you feel about that?”
    • “Is it important?”
    • “What’s important about it to you?”
    • “If we can fix that, how would that affect you in the long run?”
    • “How would you feel then?”

Once you’ve gotten the answers to these questions, you can move to the next step. Then—and only then—can you can demonstrate your value (via your genuine engagement), properly move for a closing and make the sale.

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Sandy SchusselSandy Schussel has been a coach and practice development consultant for insurance and financial professionals for the past 20 years. He is an approved MDRT coach and has served as the national sales training director for First Investors and Foresters. He is the author of two books, The High Diving Board, about overcoming fear and Become A Client Magnet, about attracting and keeping clients.