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26DecAsk the Right Discover Questions … or Suffer the Consequences


Never assume you know your sales prospect’s objections to buying from you.

That’s the lesson I learned -- and you hopefully learn, too -- from my “True Sales Tale” about my time in the newspaper industry.

You have to ask the right DISCOVER Questions to flush out those objections -- all of them. Only then can you cleverly turn them to your advantage.

My ‘True Sales Tale’

This story goes back a few years.

I was brand-new to an outside sales position at a large, metropolitan newspaper. My job was to sell ads to every business in a certain territory.

I wanted to convert the three gun stores in this territory -- they were spending zero on newspaper marketing, instead opting for radio and TV ads. This became my mission -- I spent time every day plotting my inroads to their hearts and wallets.

Interestingly enough, two of the three head honchos said the same thing: “You really need to go talk to ‘Bob.’” (Bob’s name has been changed to protect his identity.) They hinted that if Bob would start advertising with me, they would too.

Every week I would bring coffee and donuts to Bob. I memorized his favorite kinds of donuts and how he liked his coffee. I was relentless. Still, I couldn’t get him on board, yet he would never give me a flat-out or specific objection.

After months of this, he finally agreed to have a serious talk with me about his advertising spending. I had dollar signs in my eyes. I was practically buying a new car in my head with all the revenue I was about to bring in!

He told me to meet him at 3 p.m. at the newspaper’s office. At 3:02 p.m., I rounded into the parking lot. There were protesters in front of the building, picketing the newspaper.

I saw Bob right at the corner; he saw me too. He was laughing his butt off -- at my expense.

What was really going on was at 3 p.m.? The NRA was picketing the newspaper because they were so dissatisfied with its gun-related coverage. That was the real reason Bob wanted nothing to do with the newspaper.

The Happy Ending

I drove away and licked my wounds for three or four days.

The next week I decided I was going to see this ordeal through. I walked into Bob’s office again with the regular donuts and coffee. I told him something to the effect of, “If you don’t like the newspaper’s side of the story, you need to get out there and tell your side yourself.”

He couldn’t argue with that one.

Within three weeks he began to advertise with us. Sure enough, the other two gun stores followed along.

The Lesson You Should Take From This

You can’t assume you know everything that’s going on. You have to ask different kinds of questions. I wish I would have asked Bob what kinds of things he valued. I also wish I’d asked more specifically what caused him not to advertise in the newspaper. I think that whole story would have played out differently if I’d asked the right questions sooner.

What will you do next time you’re face to face with a prospect? Will you talk at them with your scripted pitch about your product? Or will you listen to their needs and even their objections? Asking the right questions can turn a hesitant prospect into a satisfied buyer.

Thanks to SalesPOP! for letting me share this story -- I hope you learn as much from it as I did.

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