When Innocent Questions Turn Into Hours Of Unpaid Time.
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Someone calls you up and is interested in your offer. So, they start asking
questions. And more questions. And more questions.
Suddenly, you've been on the phone for over an hour. And, when you hang up,
they still didn't sign up for your offer.
You spent enough time on the phone, and answered enough questions that if
they were a client, you would've sent an invoice.
When is it okay to say "I charge for that" and turn the meter on?
Why so many questions? And why do you spend so much time on the phone with
Questions aren't always what they appear to be. In many instances, the answer
to the question asked isn't what they are -really- looking for.
"Are you my mommy?"
In a children's book "Are you my mommy?" a small bird becomes separated from
her mother, and goes searching from animal to animal. She asks a dog, a pig, a
horse, "Are you my mommy?"
The little bird was feeling lost and needing help. As a little chick, she
asked directly: "Are you my mommy? Is this home?"
As adults, we've learned that the world is sometimes a scary place, and it
doesn't feel safe to be vulnerable. So we don't ask, "Is it safe here?" Instead,
the questions tend to come out, "What are all the components to this class? What
are all the ingredients in this product?"
Until that person gets their real question answered, they are going to keep
asking. And asking. And asking.
The real question they are asking is...
They are asking if you are going to care for, support, and guide them. Can
they rely on you? Is what you're offering really going to work? An hour's worth
of questions basically trying to find out if there is enough safety, connection
and trust here for them to say, "Yes."
So, how do you answer their questions that will help them become a client,
without spending an hour, being rude, or treating them like a child (which they
Keys to Turning on the Meter
* What questions do people ask you repeatedly?
If you've had a number of these conversations, you've probably heard certain
questions over and over again. Brainstorm those questions, write up the answers,
and put them on a web page, pdf, or some other document you can email them.
Because the people who are calling you aren't children, they do need some
information. Write it up and give it to them.
* Close the book and take charge.
I'm guessing you may approach a conversation with a prospect using an 'open
book' approach. You become an open book, and you invite them to ask any
questions they may have.
Except that you are the expert. If you were to ask a brain surgeon about
brain surgery, and you needed an operation, what kind of questions would you
ask? "Uh... does it hurt?" That's right, you don't know what the most important
questions are, so you'll just keep throwing darts in the dark, hoping that your
need for connection, safety and trust will be met.
I don't know about you, but I'd be nervous if a brain surgeon invited me to
just ask her questions, before she had assessed me or asked me any questions of
her own. Questions designed to help the surgeon know what's really going on and
how best to procede. And also questions designed to set me at ease, as the
Your work may not be brain surgery, but the questions you ask communicate:
"I'm confident. I know what's going on. I'm going to take care of you. We will
get you help."
* What do you recommend?
After 15 or 20 minutes of questioning a prospect, I'm guessing you'll know as
much as you need to know in order to make a recommendation: "I can help you, and
I believe that ten sessions will probably get you the results you want, or at
least help you make a LOT of progress in that direction."
Of course, it is polite to let them ask you questions. But, after questioning
them, and having a clear picture of how to work with them, it will be much
easier to say: "The question you are asking is an excellent one. Here is a piece
of the answer: X-Y-Z. And, I'm wondering what you think of my recommendation."
* Advanced tip: Web forms.
You can take a handful of your preliminary questions that you would ask
almost anyone, and put them into a form on a webpage that they can fill out. The
same page that has the answers to frequently asked questions.
If someone is willing to fill out your form, it's more probable that they are
serious in their inquiry. And, you will have a place to start having an informed
conversation with them.
About the Author
Mark Silver is the author of Unveiling the Heart of Your Business: How Money,
Marketing and Sales can Deepen Your Heart, Heal the World, and Still Add to Your
Bottom Line. He has helped hundreds of small business owners around the globe
succeed in business without lousing their hearts. Get three free chapters of the
book online: www.heartofbusiness.com
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2007-10-01 17:36:57 in Business Articles