Getting Clients to Open Up

When we're in the process of promoting our products or services or negotiating a contract, it's very easy to slip into a talkative mode and fail to listen.

We'd do well to spend a little more time planning our conversations in advance, giving thought to what information we'd like to uncover.

After all, how nice would it be if we were able to help our prospects position themselves as being in need of our services, rather than us having to do the selling?

Very nice indeed.

In our conversations we need to use relevant questioning to reveal opportunities. From there, it's a relatively seamless step to clarify what we've learned; verify our understanding and finally, swoop in with a close.

Easy really.

Let's take the case of a web developer trying to open up a conversation with someone who already has a nice looking website. Imagine an opening question that clarified the present situation and went a bit further:

"I realise you already have a website. I wonder, if you could make three improvements to it, what would they be?"
Assuming that one or two areas were revealed in the response, the next comment from our web developer might be to verify with something like:

"Ok, so let me make sure I understand this. Your site is drawing favourable comment, but it's not actually enabling you to have dialogue with visitors and it's not generating any leads. Is this right?"
Finally then, the opportunity for a closing question:

"So if I could demonstrate ways to improve both of these areas, would they be actions you'd consider investing in?"
This clearly isn't rocket science, but gee it amazes me how people don't get it right. Prospective clients will always show us the way ... if we just ask the right questions.

Experiences to share? Horror stories to recount? Post a comment and let's hear it.