I was shipping four boxes of training materials to Canada. It was a project I had worked on full-time for weeks and was so excited to box them up and ship them out.

I’ve shipped boxes consistently – and globally – for the last 12 years, so I was expecting the regular drill – we even had the forms completed in advance.

The normal shipping drill?

  • Who are you shipping to?
  • When do they need to arrive?
  • Is there anything hazardous, liquid or perishable?
  • blah, blah, blah

I was thinking, ‘Let’s hurry this up, we have a a celebration lunch to get to!’

box on conveyor beltBut this time was different, we encountered Ann as we entered the FedEx Office Store. It was immediately apparent Ann took her job seriously as she directed us to a cart to use.

Later as we discussed the ‘regular’ questions and she asked for the value of the contents, she looked concerned. And she started asking  more ‘risky’ questions. I explained that we’ve done this before and let’s just keep it moving. Ann examined the boxes and asked more questions,  two of which got me thinking…

What happens if, when you get to Canada, your contents have been damaged?

Do you realize that these boxes move down conveyor belts at more than 40 miles per hour and that without extra paper packaging and padding, the corners of the box can dent? then she pointed out the boxes we had packed the materials were in – which the empty original binders arrived in – were  a bit crinkled in the corners already.

Well, this caused me to pause.

Ann then continued, “I could pack these in a larger box with good padding and you won’t have to worry about any damage.’

I asked ‘How much?’ She calculated it was a total of $40 – to protect materials worth over $12,000!  This was a small price for ‘insurance’.  I agreed it should be done, and Ann got to work – smiling and enjoying every minute of packaging those boxes. Ended up only $35 extra!

The lesson?  As we seek to understand the ‘sitautino’ of our buyers – we need to ask risk questions!  I had no idea of the risks until Ann asked those questions. I never considered I needed to do something different with a job I’ve done so often. her questions opened my mind to new information…and I bought!

Ann increased her sale by 5% that day. Not bad for asking a couple of extra questions. How would you like to expand your sales by 5% or more each time?

It’s possible if we ask our prospects questions about the risk of doing nothing different. These risk questions might sound like:

  • What types of liability are you expected to to if your situation remains  unchanged?
  • Tell me what will happen in your facility if you don’t make the change/
  • What might be the potential downside for not making a decision in the near future? or What is the potential downside if the decision is delayed?
  • What could happen if this issue isn’t addressed in the next 6 months?
  • Based on your experience, what type of liability is present when ____________ happens?

Caution! I am not an advocate of manipulating people or scaring them to make a sale. In collaborative selling that is not necessary. We can explore the risks together if we ask the right questions.

Now, I’m not a pushover in any way. I’m always on the lookout for ‘getting sold’ to and scams, and I know that Ann was sincere in her desire to help me…and scare me potential harm. So it worked well.

With some thought on the risks your prospects may encounter…IF they move forward in a decision with your solution OR if they do nothing, you can ask great risk questions that  elevate the sense of urgency and advance your sale more quickly.

Those benefits sound like they are worth the risk of asking risky questions, don’t they?