The way in which a question is phrased and whether it is an open-ended or a closed-ended question, can drastically affect the response that is received. Ideally, teleprospectors should guide a conversation, allowing it to remain focused on the topic without suggesting specific answers. Here are some guidelines on how to accomplish this (and what not to do)…
“Guiding” a Conversation
A guided conversation can help direct the prospect to talk about the areas they are interested in, via an open dialogue, and keeps the prospect focused. Both open and closed-ended questions can assist in navigating to the desired outcome. In all cases, that outcome should be a clear understanding of the prospect’s needs. When the flow of the conversation heads in a different direction than intended, the teleprospector can steer the rudder to get back on course with a few well positioned clarifying phrases:
“Earlier you mentioned ______.”
“Can you tell me more about ______?”
“As I mentioned, the purpose of my call is _____.”
A teleprospector wants to get the prospect talking about their situation, and statements/questions like the above can help do just that. However, where guiding can help steer the boat in the right direction, leading can potentially capsize the conversation.
“Leading” the Prospect – What NOT to do
A leading conversation can put words into a prospect’s mouth, make erroneous assumptions, and result in a fundamentally inaccurate account of the prospect’s needs.
A negative assumption can cause the teleprospector to lead the conversation in a negative direction. More often than not, leading stems from using a closed-ended question approach. For example:
“So, it sounds like you don’t need anything, right?”
“You haven’t had any issues with that, have you?”
Objection! Leading the witness! A prospect will almost always follow the path of least resistance. If a question is asked in such a way that it assumes a negative response, then the negative response is the most likely result. The vast majority of responses to the two examples mentioned above are “No,” even if the truth is different. Alternatively, an open question can force the prospect into thinking about a response rather than just going with the motions.
Using “Leading” to Your Advantage
All leading questions are not bad. When used in the correct way, leading can effectively help your conversations. In particular, positive assumptions, using an open-ended approach, are very effective. For example…
• “When will you purchase a solution?” instead of “Will you purchase a solution?”
• “What is the biggest issue you’ve encountered with that?” instead of “Do you have any issues?”
These two examples make an assumption that is designed to get the prospect talking, which can help to identify a need or opportunity.
The teleprospector’s understanding of the prospect’s situation & need will be the most accurate when the prospect actively engages and contributes to the conversation. Following these tips can help you make the most out of each conversation.