How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Sellers Ask the Wrong Questions
Guest articles > Sellers Ask the Wrong Questions
by: Sharon Drew Morgen
I recently accepted a cold call from an insurance guy because I was thinking of switching providers. Instead of facilitating my buying decision, the bias in his questions terminated our connection:
TODD: Hello Ms. Morgen. Iâm Todd with XYZ. Are you interested in new car insurance?
SDM: I am.
TODD: Is your main concern lowering your costs?
TODD: You donât care about saving money?
SDM: Of course I do.
TODD: So your main concern IS lowering your costs?
TODD: So what is it?
SDM: Iâm interested in a personal connection, in knowing that if I have an accident I will be handled by someone who will take care of me.
TODD: I can promise you Iâll take care of you. My clients love me. Do you want to discuss how much youâll save?
And, we were done.
Good sellers and coaches pose better questions than Toddâs, of course. But the conversation exemplifies how a Questionerâs biased questions can significantly influence outcomes.
THE BIAS INHERENT IN QUESTIONS
Questions restrict answers to the assumptions and biases of the Questioner; Responders respond within the limits set by the question. Asking someone âWhat did you have for breakfast?â wonât elicit the answer âI bought a lamp.â Even questions that attempt to open a dialogue, like âWhat can you tell me about the problem?â or gather data, like âWhoâs in charge of decision making?â merely elicit top-of-mind responses that my not effectively represent â and indeed might cloud â the issue. Biased question; biased answer.
Sometimes questions are so biased and restricted that the real answer might get overlooked. âDo you prefer the red ball or the blue ball?â excludes not only the green ball, but a preference for a bat, or a discussion about the Responderâs color blindness. But a question such as: âWhat sort of a game implement could be easily carried and engage all employees?â might elicit a response of a ball or marbles or Monopoly and include more team members.
Most questions pull or push the data sought by the Questioner, making it difficult to know if
What if the best answer is outside of the framework of the question? Or the question isnât translated accurately by the Responder? Or there is an historic bias between the Questioner and Responder that makes communication difficult?
Questions can be used to facilitate choice, to lead Responders to new options within their own (often unconscious) value system, rather than as set ups to the Questionerâs self-serving objectives. Using a Facilitative Question, the above dialogue would sound like this:
TODD: Hi Ms. Morgen. Iâm Todd, an insurance agent with XYZ Corp. Iâm selling car insurance. Is this a good time to speak?
TODD: Iâm wondering: If you are considering changing your insurance provider, what would you need to know about another provider to be certain youâd end up getting the coverage and service you deserve?
The question â carefully worded to match a Responderâs criteria for change â shifts the bias from Toddâs self-serving objectives to enabling me in a true discovery process; from his selling patterns to my buying patterns. How different our interaction would have been if his goal was to facilitate my buying decision path rather than using his misguided persuasion tactics to sell.
I developed Facilitative Questions decades ago to enable any Questioner to facilitate someoneâs route to congruent change. With no manipulation or bias, they require a different form of listening, wording, and objectives, thereby avoiding resistance and encouraging trust between sellers, coaches, consultants and their clients.
Take a look at your own questioning strategy to see if they might work for you:
Remember: your innate curiosity or intuition may not be sufficient to facilitate anotherâs unconscious route to change â or buy â congruently. You can always gather data once the route to change is established and youâre both on the same page. Change the goals of your questions from discovering situations you can provide answers for, to facilitating real core change. Before buyers or clients will work with you, they have to do this for themselves anyway. You might as well do it with them and create a trusting relationship.
Sharon Drew Morgen is the visionary behind Buying FacilitationÂŽ - a change management model that includes learning how to Listen for Systems, formulating Facilitative Questions, and understanding the steps of systemic change. For those of you wishing to learn more, take a look at the program syllabus. Please visit www.dirtylittlesecrets.com and read the two free chapters. Consider reading it with the companion ebook Buying FacilitationÂŽ
Sharon Drew is the author of the NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling With Integrity, as well as 6 other books on helping buyers buy. She is also the author of the Amazon bestseller What? Did you really say what I think I heard? Sharon Drew keynotes, trains and coaches sales teams to help them unlock situations that are stalled, and teaches teams how to present and prospect by facilitating the complete buying decision process. She delivers keynotes at annual sales conferences globally. Sharon Drew can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org 512 771 1117
Contributor: Sharon Drew Morgen
Published here on: 06-May-18