I am a Law & Order SUV junkie – I enjoy figuring out the plot twists and whodunnit. I watch with interest how the detectives interrogate the suspects to get to the truth…or what they believe is the truth…and the information they seek.

They sit across the table and look them straight in the eye. They ask questions that include assumptions and ask for the same information over and over if needed.

Good Sellers Shouldn’t Interrogate

Unfortunately, sometimes that’s what it seems like happens during sales conversations. Good intentioned sellers have a long list of “data” to collect and they NEED this information to determine whether they can help the prospect and what type of service/fee structure is best for them.

Yet, the prospect ends up feeling like they are on the other side of the interrogation table as they are asked direct question after question.

It doesn’t make for a good connection, trust, or opportunity for a sale.

Turn Your Questioning into an Investigation

There is, however, a better way. Turn your questioning into an investigation where you get their story more than the data.

Of course, you need to collect specifics no matter what you sell…but using this easy 4-Point framework to get the whole story will allow you to understand the context around that data.

The 4-Point Questions

The 4 points are:

  • Today
  • Tomorrow
  • Risk and
  • Reward

Today – We need to know what TODAY is or what Today looks like for the contact.

Tomorrow – Identify where the contact wants to go or where they need to be. It’s the outcome they seek – what they want changed; the savings they need to find; or the opportunities that they can capture. Questions about Tomorrow get the contact articulating the future state. As we discuss Tomorrow, we gain insight into their priorities.

Risk – Review the potential downsides and challenges to staying where they are Today as well as Risks for moving or not moving to Tomorrow.

Discussing Risk questions can be very enlightening for the contact. They differentiate you from other sellers.

Reward – Questions explore benefits and provide insight into the motivations that will drive a decision or action.

Sellers mistakenly think these questions are so obvious they don’t need to be asked and answered. Yet, what we assume are the benefits might be different from what the buyer thinks are the benefits.

When you understand all 4 points, you’ll know the facts and the emotions surrounding the situation. You’ll learn – and they’ll clarify – their motivators; and motivation to do or decide something is the real goal.

Investigate, Don’t Interrogate

So, put away the bright light and sit alongside your prospective clients.

Set up your questions with the intent of why you are asking for the information. Sprinkle the data questions in with the open-ended questions that give you better context.

You might find the “truth” you expected isn’t the truth at all. And instead of chasing down the wrong trail or gathering wrong answers, you’ll be able to connect what you do to their story, which creates value and moves the sale forward.

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