What’s wrong? And how can I fix it? Those questions often begin the traditional sales process, says sales guru Don Maruska. Your job is to find out where the customer hurts and apply the medicine. Or is it?

“You want to know what’s wrong?” the customer says. “My stuff is obsolete, my budget is too small, my competitors are too big and my bosses don’t understand me. So what are you going to do about all that?”

A limiting question
The “what’s wrong?” question limits your ability to sell. It only lets you work against a checklist of problems. And it gets customers thinking about what they can’t do, instead of what they can do. People in that frame of mind aren’t likely to try anything new. They just want to hang on to what they already have.

A different approach
Instead, try starting the sales process by focusing on what’s possible. Ask, “What do you hope to achieve? And why is it important to you?”

Focusing on hopes gets people thinking about where they want to be rather than where they’re stuck right now. Often it can open up a path to action nobody saw before.

Example: You ask, “What’s wrong?” The customer says, “Our copier is too slow. We’re losing productivity and missing deadlines.” You’ve identified an opportunity to sell a faster copier. But if you ask, “What are your hopes?” the customer says: “I hope to produce top-notch marketing materials in house, so we can jump on new opportunities.” Now you have a chance to propose an on-demand printing system.

To learn more from Don Maruska visit www.donmaruska.com

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