Last week, Ashley discussed the value of open-ended questions in a lead generation guide. Another key element of success when it comes to leveraging open-ended questions is to pay attention to and understand the nuances associated with how the contact responds.
Many agents are uncomfortable with open-ended questions because they feel like they’re putting the contact on the spot. Often it takes the contact a second to think through their response. It is that second where a lot of reps panic; it can be a very uncomfortable moment. One of the hardest things for a new agent to do is to learn to live with that silence. I try to explain to them that what really happening is that this prospect was just sitting at his desk, minding his own business, and the phone rings. And suddenly here you are asking all sorts of questions about his situation and experiences, his pains and challenges. It really not as simple a question as one might imagine. The contact needs a second to process what specifically is being asked, what his environment looks like today, how he and others in his office feel about it, and what he’d really like to share with the stranger who just called. This can take a few seconds. The experienced rep needs to be able to patiently sit through that silence, without getting uncomfortable and interrupting that thought process for the contact.
Beyond silence, the agent should listen for hesitation. Why is the contact hesitating? Is it because they’re not sure about the answer? Or are they just having a hard time putting it into word? Do they feel like maybe they shouldn’t be telling you? Are they making it up on the spot? When in doubt, ask for clarification: