Selling by Asking, “Why?”
Today I want to focus on one sales strategy that has been very effective for me in the past. For me, the most effective way to achieve this is to simply ask the question, “Why?” This question can open the door to new lines of thought, and reevaluation.
Several months ago, I met a Vice President of Sales, who was really beating me up on price. He mentioned that one of my competitors quoted him a price that was 15% less than mine. Based off the pricing that he was provided, I immediately knew 1 of 3 things was happening;
He wasn’t telling the truth (which I didn’t think was the case).
The recruiting company was outsourcing to another country.
The recruiting services weren’t good and the only thing they knew how to compete on was price.
Our conversation was a bit intense, and he went on the offensive for about 10 minutes. I couldn’t help but feel like I was in the boxing ring taking a lot of punches, and when my back was against the ropes, I remembered how to counteract his approach. All I had to do was ask “Why?”
When he brought the issue of pricing up again, I asked, “Why do you think they’re priced so much lower than me?” This question caught him off guard, as he looked surprised like a deer in the headlights. After a slight pause, he responded, “I guess I never really thought of that.”
I followed that question up with another “why,” asking “Why did you invite me to meet with you, knowing that our prices were higher?”. Again, he didn’t seem to anticipate this line of questioning and he quickly admitted that the low priced company wasn’t doing a great job. This lead to him outlining the details of his current situation, and why he wasn’t satisfied with the work of my competitor.
Realizing that things were quickly moving in the right direction, I continued with this approach saying, “I know you’re not the least expensive company in your industry. Why do you think people buy from you?” He began to elaborate on their great product, exceptional level of service, and unparalleled customer experience. I continued to agree with every point he was making, as it all resonated with my own thoughts.
Finally, I asked, “If you’re selling for a higher price because of your great product and service, which I too pride myself on too, why do you think I should sell at the lowest price?”
To make a long story short, he ended up signing the contract at the original price that I quoted him. It’s not rocket science. Asking, “Why?” four times not only got the contract signed, but it got me the price that I was hoping for. These questions successfully reframed the conversation, and allowed for a shared perspective to emerge. Once I was able to align his thought process with my own, it wasn’t long before we were on the same page and the sale was closed.