Tuesday, July 19, 2011

More About Questions

The nature of human beings is that they want (actually more like NEED) to answer questions. So questions are always a good strategy in both copywriting (what you write about your products) and in person when you’re talking to a potential customer.

Here’s another thing about questions. When he answers your friendly questions, it reduces his resistance to buying from you. There are probably two reasons that is the case. The first is that if he’s answering your questions, he’s feeling a connection with you (i.e. he feels you’re interested in him) and second, he just gave up some of his options to resist you (resistance to buying is lower). Lower resistance means he’s more open to what you have to say to him about why he needs your product. Both are powerful ways to connect with your customers which translates to more sales.

I could write bunches on asking questions. Oh, yes, I already have! See any of my marketing books--questions are covered more in depth. But for today, learn the art of asking friendly, personal, open-ended questions. Learn the art of visiting. (like last article, the art of chit chat).  You can “visit" in print just like you can "visit" in person. 

Questions with a one word answer or a yes or no answer, do not move your selling process along. Ask questions with answers that are sentences or maybe even paragraphs. Your potential customers will willingly talk about themselves if you ask them the right questions. And when they're talking about themselves, it gives you more information about how to meet their needs. 

Here are some examples.
“Have you been ________________ (weaving, spinning, raising goats, alpacas, horses, etc) for long?
“How long have you been _______________(weaving, spinning, raising goats, alpacas, horses, etc)?
Neither of those questions will do as much as this.
“Tell me about how you got interested in ____________________(weaving, spinning, raising goats, alpacas, horses, etc)? 
Not this, “Is there a special reason you like organic produce?”
But this will get them talking. “Tell me what you think organic vegetables will do for your family.”
Not “Have you looked at very many _______________?” but “Tell me about the animals you’ve already looked at.” 
Not “Where did you grow up?” but “Tell me what brought you to this part of the country.”
Not “Do you like outdoor activities?” but “What kinds of things do you like to do in your spare time?”
Not “Are your kids in 4-H?” but “What do you think your kids would enjoy about 4-H?”

Now, though I’ve given you some examples, you need to come up with your own. Especially if someone is at your farm, your shop or your booth, you need to figure out what questions are right for your product and have them ready, practiced, and in your head. Even for on the phone!

In my workshops I recommend people have a little notebook to keep handy for questions, phrases, ideas you want to remember to say to customers. You can also store facts about your product (like pedigree info or statistics you might not have memorized—microns, milk test numbers, show wins). But the main point is to have your questions and selling phrases where you can remind yourself and use them fluently. 
As you’re doing this kind of “visiting” with potential customers, remember these super important things:
  • You have to pay attention and really listen to their answers
  • You need to make eye contact (it says you’re listening)
  • NEVER be answering your cell phone or getting distracted. Your attention is on that person, 100%.
  • A smile is a good idea, too--but not a fake smile! 
These are just people skills. These go back to putting the customer first. It’s the golden rule. It all ties together. The best sales people are the ones with the best people skills. Even if these skills don’t come naturally to you, you can improve. Practice on your spouse, your children, the people at work, your friends, even sales clerks in stores. It works everywhere, because when people feel they’re important to you, their resistance goes way down and they’ll be open to what you want them to do. (And, of course, what you want them to do is what’s in their best interest, too, right?) Try it. Practice it. You’ll find better results in all areas of your life, but especially in your bottom line!



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