Understanding your market is one of the most essential elements of any sales and marketing initiative. You already know that.
‘Know thy prospect' is the cardinal rule whether you are selling a product or service, cold calling to set up appointments or trying to get bums in seats for your next event.
But how do you get into your prospect's head and heart without going out of your mind - or spending a fortune on third-party research? It's easier than you think. All you have to do is ask four key questions -- each and every time you speak to a prospect.
The more you ask your prospects these questions, the better you'll know the answers before you even ask them. And that's when the person in front of you or the reader on the other side of the cyberworld will feel like you're reading his or her mind.
Imagine knowing exactly what's going on inside the head of the person you're talking to about becoming your next client or event attendee. It's not magic or extra-sensory perception -- it's sales 101. And you can learn it...
At the end of this article, I'll let you in on some other ways you can use this four-question process to improve your telepathic skills and establish yourself as an expert in your field.
Want to know more? Well then, let's get started.
Question 1: "When you think about your (insert the topic of your event or area of expertise), what are the things you/your company have going for you - what are your strengths?"
By starting the conversation with this question, you focus the conversation around your area of expertise and establish a good rapport that will be key to maintaining honesty later on, when the conversation turns to problems and risks.
But the importance of starting with strengths is not just a psychological ‘trick' you play on your prospect or audience - it ensures that you maintain a positive, respectful frame of mind. (Always a good thing for good communication, yes?)
Starting with strengths also shows your prospect how your solution or event fits within the context of his or her existing success. Whether in advertising copy or in real dialog, this gets the other person to get their head nodding ‘yes'.
Now you're ready for question two.
Question 2: "What are some of the weaknesses and challenges that you face going forward (in that same area)?"
Some people may be so ‘primed' by the positive discussion you started with that he or she may volunteer something like, ‘I don't want you to get the wrong impression! We're not perfect!'
Other people might need a little probing to get started on their weaknesses and the challenges they face. Here is where practice helps, especially if you focus on a specific target group or niche.
As soon as you can identify a challenge or pain that your solution helps with, you can move on to question three.
Question 3: "What's likely to happen if you do nothing about those challenges - what are the risks going forward?"
This invokes what change management experts call, the ‘burning platform'. The premise behind the burning platform is that people don't change unless there's an immediate compelling reason. You wouldn't jump off a 150 foot high platform unless there was a fire licking at your heels.
Your prospect may be in the middle of a crisis and already highly motivated to act now. Or they may perceive the problem as something to deal with in the distant future.
By probing the answers to this question, you help the other person to feel the pain of tomorrow - today.
The stronger and more painful they feel it, the more likely they'll respond to your call to action. Now.
Question 4: "On the other hand, if we could fix those issues, what do you think you'd get or be able to do as a result?"
This is the easy part. If you have guided the conversation in the order described so far, while still allowing the conversation to flow naturally, the person or people in front of you will probably come to their own conclusions of the benefits by themselves.
And that's the way you want it. Experts in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) talk about ‘away' people and ‘toward' people.
If the person is an away person, he or she may be motivated to act based on the conversation around question three because they want to move away from negative experiences.
Toward people are more motivated to move toward positive experiences and results - and that's where this part of the conversation comes in.
You might need to prompt them a little bit, or interject (where appropriate) how your specific product, service or event will help ensure they get the results they are after, but if you can bite your tongue for a just a few minutes longer, it's always more compelling for people to come to their own conclusions rather than having someone else try to convince them.
Four Ways To Improve Your Telepathic Skills
Here are four ways you can use this process to improve your sales telepathy and establish yourself as an expert in your field:
1. Invite your best prospects for coffee individually and have an old-fashioned conversation!
2. Organize a group meeting of prospects and existing clients. These questions can serve as the agenda.
3. Write a whitepaper of best practices in the industry you are targeting, using these four questions as the interview questions.
4. Develop a self-assessment for prospects to fill out online or on paper that takes them through this process themselves.
The more you use these four questions, whether in conversation or using one of the other methods above, the more you'll understand your market - and the more you'll improve your sales telepathy skills.