The Art of Getting the Prospect to Talk

The Art of Getting the Prospect to Talk

Tight-lipped propsects aren’t trying to be difficult, they’re trying to be safe. Here’s how to make them talk.

Learn about the prospect’s thinking and/or their business by checking them out online, listening to what they have to say and opening your eyes when you are physically present.  Asking good questions will further your success.  By probing, listening and understanding the salesperson has a good idea of what to do to gain the prospect’s interest.

Suspect is before prospect so we are assuming here that you are speaking to the right person.  You have also done the preliminaries of introducing yourself.  Get to the business at hand quickly by stating the general nature of your visit by asking leading questions and by listening carefully to the answers.  Except for brief additional questions after the prospects answer when something is not clear, now is the time to keep quiet and let the prospect talk.  Pay attention and look sincerely interested as the prospect is sure to say something that you can dig into with further questions; that gives a hint to their area of interest, or where you can comment on an easily agreed to improvement or weakness.  At this stage you are talking generalities.

Some types of questions:

  1. Direct Questions:  Are questions that answer with a simple yes or no.  Be careful when you use these especially when closing.
  2. Open-ended Questions: Use what, when, where or how… and are valuable in the research phase of the sale as it cannot be answered with a yes or no.
  3. Assumptive Questions: These are more of a statement and are successfully used to close a sale.  It must be delivered in such a tone as to assume full compliance.  If you get a no then find out what is wrong and put any blame for misunderstanding on yourself.  By getting the misunderstanding cleared up you can then go in again for the sale.
  4. Leading Question: This is a statement of fact with a question tacked on to it.  It is also intended to evoke a preferred answer.  “Sound ok?” Or “Wouldn’t you agree?” are good examples of this.  These are a softer way to get great results.
  5. Choice Questions: The choice is a decision between one or two alternatives either of which gives the salesperson what they want.

All questions can be good or bad depending on the tone of voice and when you ask them.  Getting the prospects to talk is easy.  The best method of doing this is by some type of questioning.  Often the sales call is an unexpected interruption in the prospect’s day.  Getting the prospect to talk,, rather than hoping they will listen is a much better and safer prelude to a sales proposition, demonstration or attempt to gain interest.