In Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Red Book of Sales, one of the sections I like the most is the one on power questions. He goes in depth on how to engage your potential client with questions in a way that no one else is. These power questions will make you stand out among others.
When you are trying to close a deal, you need to be able to make the potential client stop, think and engage with you. That’s what power questions do.
What Gitomer says is true: “You become known by the questions you ask”.
Here are Gitomer’s 7.5 power question strategies known to result in success:
1. Ask the prospect questions that make them evaluate new information
When you think about it, the goal is to get the prospect to think outside the box and break away from the normalcy of their day. You want to ask them questions that no one else is asking. They probably have sales people coming through their door every day, so how are you going to break away from the monotony of sales questions and really impress this prospect?
2. Ask questions that qualify the needs of the buyer
Getting a good understanding of what the prospect goes through on a daily basis is so important. It’s about getting them to actually acknowledge their own needs and really break down to the core the specific things they want to accomplish. That’s what qualification is all about. Anytime you can get the prospect to be very clear about their needs and goals, you can hold them accountable for those goals later on down the road.
3. Ask questions about improved productivity or profits
This is where you are getting the prospect to really think about their day-to-day. The idea is to get a feel for the operations of their business. It establishes the relationship and the environment that we want to create with this prospect. Sometimes they will share information that really shows you what kind of business owner they are or what type of boss they are, and that will really help you with the sale.
4. Ask questions about company goals or even personal goals.
Imagine you’re a business owner and someone sits down with you and asks you, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years? How many locations do you hope to have 5 years from now?” Those are questions that will make you stop and think. You don’t have an immediate response to those questions because no one else has asked them. Even though those questions may not have anything to do with you or your business directly, they are the kinds of questions that build that relationship with the prospect. It demonstrates that you really care.
5. Ask questions that separate you from your competition, not compare you to them
You don’t want anyone to think that you are the same as, or even just a little bit better, than your competitors. You want prospects to think of you as entirely different than the competition. We can accomplish this by asking the right questions. You can’t force a buying environment–it needs to be created with the participation of the prospect. Make sure your questions are a whole lot different than what other sales people are asking.
6. Ask power questions that make you customer or prospect think before giving a response.
Questions that make your prospect stop and think prove that you’re getting through to them. Going back to the question “Where do you want to be in 10 years?”, this is the type of question that they don’t have the answer on the tip of their tongue. No one has asked it before, so they can’t just spit out some automatic response. They really have to stop and think about it.
7. Ask power questions that create a buying atmosphere, not a selling one.
Power questions expose the prospect’s needs and get them to shop YOU. You are asking them questions like, “What do you like about our service?” After you ask a question, be silent! Get them to say what they’re thinking. The silence exposes their feelings and their shopper mentality. You get them using the creative side of their brain, exploring your product, and you just sit back and let them talk.
7.5 A critical success strategy is to enhance your listening skills.
As the customer is giving their answers to your BRILLIANT questions, write them down. Writing your customers answers proves that you care, preserves your data for follow-up, keeps the record straight, and it makes the customer feel important.
When the customer sees that you are actually taking note of the things they are saying, you build the relationship and create the buying environment.
Keep in mind, none of this is stuff that will come naturally to you. It takes practice and it takes preparation, but these are very important elements that you absolutely MUST be hitting in your sales presentations.
No matter what type of business you’re in, you will always receive feedback from customers. Many businesses take the time to listen to customers and collect feedback, but not all know how to respond to that feedback and leverage it to better their business. It’s important to determine the proper protocol for responding to that feedback from customers.
With SMS marketing, the systems in place often allow businesses to receive text messages from customers with feedback. Customers will say exactly what is on their mind (not always good), and we must be monitoring these incoming comments for positive feedback! Customers may leave feedback on other channels as well, for example by calling, emailing, posting on social media, etc. Businesses should have a general understanding on how to manage their own PR and respond to and utilize those comments in the proper way.
I’ve outlined some strategies on how and when to respond to customer comments, as well as how we can leverage them:
What Messages to Respond to:
- Obviously businesses can’t respond to EVERYONE who leaves positive feedback, so there’s really no need to respond.
- Businesses can, however, show their appreciation for certain pieces of feedback (for example on social media) with a quick “Thanks for your feedback!”
- Save positive comments to share with prospects.
- Only respond if you can do it promptly–a delayed response may cause confusion. Responding to customer feedback 3 months later is pointless–the time has passed, the opportunity was missed.
- Always offer to point the customer to your business’ customer service phone number.
- In SMS marketing, if you receive an opt-out request:
- No need to respond–simply delete that customer from the list.
When Responding to Feedback
- Identify who you are.
- Try to avoid ongoing dialog back and forth.
- Address the need/question in one message, if possible.
Leveraging Positive Comments
- Demonstrate customer demand for rewards.
- Have a process in place to understand where customers could be finding problems in their dealings with your business.
- Use screen shots from time to time to provide an element of value in your emails to your prospects.
Obtaining feedback is one thing, but knowing what to do with it AFTER you receive it, is what will really affect your business’ long term success. By embracing your customer feedback, you can achieve transparency into customer buying behavior and gain insight into future buying behavior.
The “loyalty” aspect of our service is what has really fueled a lot of the interest we’ve been getting recently. There has been a huge spike in interest in SMS and other mobile marketing services since the beginning of 2012. And, for the past few years, the Groupon model has been relatively popular. The concept of social buying and heavy discounts was very compelling to small businesses that were looking for ways to drive business. However, we saw some backlash with this model.
The deep discounts and one-time buys are not ideal for the goals and needs of certain businesses. I’ve seen about 60-90% of business owners say they will never do another Groupon again. So if you look at the business market and see that most businesses will not use Groupon again, then how does Groupon have any kind of future?
We always knew that the No. 1 fail point of Groupon was that they had no client retention model. We knew they would eventually have to evolve into a loyalty company—and they did when they came out with Groupon Rewards.
Now, the company is distancing itself from small businesses. They realized their model failed to deliver loyalty, so they started offering a lot of other type of products. Now their focus is on “rewards”, which they obviously did out of demand in the marketplace. But, many businesses dislike Groupon because although they can offer great discounts to customers, they aren’t able to get their hands on the list of people who bought the Groupon. That list is important in building loyalty and personal, engaging interactions among customers.
At SMS Masterminds, we have taken the time and energy to build a very campaign-based and service-based program. We understand the concept of loyalty and how it relates to the needs and opportunities of small business marketing.
There are several elements of a loyalty program that absolutely must be included for the program to be successful. And guess what—Groupon has incorporated virtually none of them. Here are some of the must-have components to a successful loyalty program:
Personal Relationship Building
Whatever system you use for your loyalty program should be one that rides the trends of the loyalty marketing industry and the demands of consumers. Consumers are demanding relationships—they want to feel important and buy from people that they like. If a brand can create a personality and get people to like it, that brand will win over customers. It’s about making an effort to make the customer experience personal and engaging.
Engaging Ongoing Messaging
A loyalty program needs to have consistency in its touch points. We are in a very fast-paced industry today and people expect instant gratification. With our loyalty marketing program, consumers are constantly engaged—receiving text message updates and rewards for checking-in on the Loyalty Rewards Kiosk. With Groupon Rewards, there is no engagement. It’s a system that tallies up totals, and who knows when you will receive your reward.
Timely Push Technology
You want to be able to PUSH your message out there. In order to continue that personal relationship with consumers, you must be able to reach them and provide them with something of value. Push technology is so important in marketing—and that’s why mobile is so big right now—because being able to push out your message and almost INSTANTLY reach consumers is unbelievably powerful.
In-House Engagement Element
You need to have something in-house that people can engage with when they walk into your business. There needs to be something they can do, touch, see, feel—whether it’s a table tent or some other form of signage or a Loyalty Rewards Kiosk conveniently located at the point of purchase—so customers can see, in that moment, how many check-ins they have so far, how many rewards they’ve earned, etc.
Habit Forming Consumer Use
A loyalty system needs to teach your customer how to buy. A successful program can help them develop habits that they will continue to act on over time. Consumer buyer habits are one of the most critical elements of any analytics because understanding what your customers are doing and helping them further mold their buying habits will directly affect your bottom line.
Social Media Integration
It’s 2012. If you are still aboard the anti-social media “I don’t see how it will help my business” train, then you should probably get off at the next stop. You can no longer turn a blind eye. Social media is out there, it’s big, and you can’t deny the success that many businesses have using it to promote brand awareness. A system with elements of loyalty, brand building and consumer engagement should absolutely include social media to round off the entire experience.
If you’re in the marketing industry, you’re going to have people ask you about the differences between Groupon and other loyalty marketing programs. Be prepared to answer those kind of questions by being informed.
Anyone can buy a full-page advertisement in a newspaper, but it’s what the ad says and how it looks that makes the difference of whether it works or not. It comes down to service. When we see other companies providing a technology-only solution, it comes up short in terms of what expectations should be. Value is the key, which is why our system has been built the way it has and how it has remained sustainable among all the other variations that are out there.
Case studies and testimonials help get your prospects to really empathize with what your business is doing and understand your services in a real world context.
Think of Apple’s commercials for the iPad. You don’t see them going into detail about gigabytes, chips and pixels. They strive to show you what the experience is like. And that’s what matters to your prospects—the experience they will get from your service.
Prospective customers don’t need to hear about the nuts and bolts, but rather how your product or service is going to benefit them. There’s no better way to do that than telling a story—and there’s no better way to tell your business’ story than having a customer talking about how your service benefited them.
If you had a 20 second video testimonial from a customer that you could play on your iPad when you walk into a sales meeting, do you think you’d close that deal? Absolutely.
You probably have tons of customers out there who speak very highly of you to others, so why not try and get that feedback in a written or video testimonial?
Well, the problem is no one likes to ask for testimonials. However, you’d be amazed to see how willing people are to help when you ask for it—and when you ask for it in the right way.
Here are some tips that will help you avoid some of the anxiety that comes along with asking for testimonials:
Ask for Feedback
Instead of asking for a “testimonial”, position it as asking for feedback on your business’ services.
Say, “Would you mind providing me with some feedback on your experience using our services? I’d love to hear what you have to say.”
Then, once they give you their feedback, you can ask them for permission to use their quote in a testimonial. For example you can say, “That’s great! Do you mind if I quote you on our website?” or “Do you mind if I forward your feedback to our prospects?”
It’s less invasive and aggressive than asking someone for a testimonial. Plus, leveraging the positive feedback from customers should give you a huge confidence boost when you walk into a business and try to close a deal.
It’s Not THAT You Ask, It’s HOW You Ask
When you ask for a testimonial, ask the right questions in order to elicit the response you want.
Ask questions like, “How have our services changed the way you engage with your customers?” or “What would you tell a friend who was thinking in investing in our services?”
Prompt the customer to say exactly what a prospect would want to hear.
Ask for Permission
Permission is key. Just because someone gives you positive feedback does not mean you have permission to use it in any way you want. You never want to get into a situation where your customers find out you’ve been quoting them on your website or in published documents without their consent.
You probably know the quote, “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.” Well, that isn’t necessarily true in this circumstance. If for some reason the person doesn’t like the way you phrased something or thinks you took something they said out of context, that will directly affect your credibility to that person.
You don’t want to have to ask for forgiveness of a customer. By the time you do, it may already be too late.
Don’t Be Afraid to Rewrite
Sometimes customers may submit written testimonials that need a little bit of tweaking. There may be grammar issues, awkward wording or bad punctuation. You certainly don’t want to publish a less-than-perfect testimonial because it will make both you and the customer look bad.
Feel free to rewrite testimonials appropriately using similar language and wording, but make sure not to take anything the customer said out of context.
Also, make sure to get the go-ahead from the customer on the rewrite. Just let them know you cleaned up the quote they sent you and have them approve it before you publish or send it anywhere.
Give Back When You Receive
When someone gives you something like a great testimonial, find a way to give back to them.
If your customer is a business—go on their Yelp Page and write a review about them.
Whatever you do, make it personal and make it from you.