It Stopped Me ColdRecently, when I was thinking about remodeling my house, a contractor asked me a question that stopped me cold. I’ll never forget it. He asked:
“When you drive up to your remodeled home how do you want to feel?”
The question asked for no specific information about building materials or type of windows—no specifics a contractor could actually work with.
But it opened up a series of conversations between us that eventually produced a plan I would never have dreamt possible had he not asked me that initial question.
Why Ask Thought-Provoking QuestionsPeople in executive sales know they’re supposed to ask questions.
The trouble lies with the kinds of questions they’re in the habit of asking. Too often, they either ask for info that can be found elsewhere or they ask questions that bore or put off their customers.
Consider, for example, the difference between these two questions:
- “What was your sales growth like last year?”
- “How do you feel about last year’s sales growth?”
With the second question, you’ll not only find out what sales growth was like but whether your prospect felt good, bad, or indifferent about it.
Why is this critical? Because only when you understand your listener’s mindset can you create value for them.
The key to creating value for your customers is to ask the kinds of thought-provoking questions that will engage them, open up a productive conversation, and provide you the insight to give them what they need.
Are Your Questions Thought-Provoking? Fundamentally, thought-provoking questions should uncover perspectives, possibilities, and feelings about various topics, events, or scenarios important to the customer.
How do you know if your questions are thought-provoking? Give this a try.
Imagine you’re planning a first meeting with an executive. Go ahead and quickly brainstorm a list of all the questions you’d typically ask in a meeting like this.
Then evaluate whether each of your questions meets the following criteria:
- It can’t be answered with a yes or no.
- It can’t be answered by anyone else other than your customer.
- It engages the customer’s imagination, e.g., "What if..." or "Imagine..."
- It leads the customer to new insights.
- It sets you apart from other salespeople.
Before every customer meeting, review and then rewrite your questions based on this checklist. If you do, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much more productive your conversations become.
Learn MoreIs your sales team struggling to identify executive concerns and priorities? Can they engage executives in consultative conversations? Find out how Mandel’s The Influential Conversation™ Workshop can help.
Gratitude. Appreciation. Recognition. It makes you feel good. This week in the US, many will pause for a day or two to give thanks and show appreciation for the things and people we care about most. It’s no secret how appreciation benefits the person getting it—but did you know it benefits the person giving it just as much? Discover why recognition is such a powerful tool for improving relationships and wellbeing in life—and at work. Learn how to (and how NOT to) express your appreciation to others.
People in communities across the globe are adjusting to communicating while wearing masks. As we’re all experiencing, masks present both verbal and non-verbal communication challenges.Given this, we’ve prepared 5 tips for effective communications while wearing a mask, and compiled several insightful articles from leading publications on additional best practices.
TED Talks have become a go-to example for how to give an engaging presentation from the big stage. They can be informative, inspiring, and often incredibly entertaining. But is the TED Talk format right for a business presentation delivered in a conference room? Probably not — but the skills used by TED Talk presenters definitely are!
Learn how to identify what goes into a successful TED Talk and how to make those skills work for you in your everyday business presentations.
Learn Mandel’s 3-step model for skillfully responding — not reacting — to tough questions with confidence and ease.
What inspires and motivates people to action? Here’s a hint: it’s not a PowerPoint deck filled with data points and analytics. Learning how to share a powerful story can positively influence others and help your ideas become memorable. Perhaps you need to promote a new idea or close that crucial sale. Learn how some of the most successful business ventures today got their start from sharing a powerful story and how you can make your own narrative work for you.
Executive briefings. Big sales meetings. Project pitch meetings. What do they have in common? The stakes are sky high. There’s a lot riding on them for you and your company — revenue, reputation, productivity. Do your people have, both, the presentation AND facilitation skills to ensure their success?
Read the blog to find out and to get your free Discussion Leader Self-Assessment Tool and Facilitator Checklist.
Memory almost full. Imagine that warning flashing brightly on the forehead of every audience member. A successful presentation isn’t just about the speaker’s dynamic energy or their confident manner in front of an audience. Without compelling, easy to follow content, it doesn’t matter how comfortable you are in the spotlight. You and your topic will quickly be forgotten. So how do you ensure lasting, memorable impact? Learn how to be remembered by leveraging the ancient, globally relevant, and scientifically proven rule of three to focus your content, motivate your listeners, and make your executive presence shine.
How do you feel about building rapport? Many introverts feel uncomfortable when it comes to rapport-building because they think it means having to make “small talk” with others. If that’s you, fear not. You don't need the gift of gab to build good rapport. And having the gift of gab (or being extroverted) doesn't guarantee success either — especially if you're the one doing most of the talking.
Read the blog to get specific rapport-building tips anyone can use to quickly make a strong connection with others.
Listening is the most important communication skill. Why? Because nothing kills relationships or productivity faster than NOT listening. Communication barriers, like poor active listening, cost the average organization a staggering $62.4 million a year. Want to improve your team's listening skills? Want to become a better active listener yourself? Use these 4 steps to become a better active listener and start having more productive conversations with your colleagues and customers.
Do salespeople and technologists communicate differently? Is one group better at presenting than the other? Can the two ever agree on how to present or what info to share? Corporate Workforce Development expert, high-tech industry veteran, and former Mandel client Suzanne McLarnon shares the secret behind developing both sales and technical professionals into superb communicators.
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