Covering NYC financials meant that I was working with clients who literally exchanged billions of dollars per day. They have no problem reminding you of the ramifications in the event of a network outage. Downtime, for even a second, could potentially affect millions of dollars.
The Chief Information Officer (CIO) of one of my region’s largest customers left me a message stating, “call me back.” I later learned the CIO called to remind me one of the most basic sales skills.
“Your job isn’t to ask me what’s keeping me up at night. It’s to tell me what should be.” The CIO described one of my employees that was asking him too many discovery questions.
As sales people, we are taught to ask as many open-ended questions as much as possible. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “you have two ears and one mouth.”
“Yes, I understand,” I replied. “Thank you for providing me with the feedback.”
First,this served as a vital reminder to be mindful of your audience. Many of my clients use the ‘Compassion & Empathy’ practice from Module 3 of my program before a meeting. This helps you envision yourself in the place of your customer. You’ll provide them with an invaluable experience by being aware of their concerns and offering solutions based off your expertise.
Second, using mindful listening is essential. Focus solely on your client, rather than thinking about what you’re going to say next. Use all of your senses to determine if questions are landing well. Next, offer value with clarifying questionsto ensure they provide you with the information necessary to solve their problems.
Finally, when selling to the C-Suite, remember that executives aren’t keen on answering a bunch of seller-enabling questions. You must be mindful of your audience and come prepared to provide value either by forewarning them to risks they haven’t foreseen or unnoticed opportunities.
Use these tips to be a trusted partner, rather than a junior salesperson asking discovery questions.