Positioning is Everything

“When are you planning to retire?” you ask, and there is almost a wince from your customer.  Perhaps he feels the question is a bit too intrusive or abrupt.  Have you ever found yourself in a position of having to ask a delicate question but not sure how to phrase it?

Today we’ll continue the discussion from last week regarding how to position questions so that your customers and prospects will understand and buy in to your reasoning.

Like many of the communication skills I teach, this one comes with an easy-to-use model, which goes like this:

Step One:  What do you want to know?  What is your question?

Step Two:  Ask yourself, “What is the customer-centric reason why I am asking the question?”  Your reason must be one that benefits the customer.  How does he gain by responding?

Step Three:  In statement form, tell your customer the reason you came up with in step two.

Step Four:  Now ask the question.

So let’s work through the question at the top, “When are you planning to retire?” Why would you want to know this?  Well, if you’re selling retirement plans, investment or wealth services, or insurance, you certainly want to ask this question.  But the key is, “What is the customer-centric reason?”  If you’re thinking like your customer, you know that a big fear is outliving your money.  People worry that if they retire at the wrong time they won’t have enough put away.

So let’s tell the customer this in Step Three:  “My experience has been that most people worry that if they retire, they may not have enough put away to live comfortably.  I know you don’t want to be in that position. My role is to help you make the right decisions now about how much and how often to invest, and of course that solution begins with knowing your retirement date, so may I ask you when are you planning to retire?”

What you have done in steps three and four is “positioned” your question so the customer sees it’s in his own interest to answer it, and that is always your solution.  So let me give you a quiz for next week.  Here are three questions that you might find yourself having to ask. On their own they seem pretty intrusive, but you can position them to make your customer eager to answer:

1)      Why do you keep on rolling over this certificate of deposit?

2)      Why do you bank with First Bank & Trust?

3)      Why are you taking so much money out of your business?

Next week I’ll give you suggested answers on how to position each of them. Effective positioning is evidence that you know how to…

Think Like Your Customer

The Boston Marathon was quite exciting.  Great weather, huge excited crowds and a new course record (but not for me!) However, I did finish my 8th Boston and 33rd lifetime marathon, and although a bit tired, I feel super.

About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at www.actionsystemstraining.com.

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