Turn Up The Heat
If he had a long enough lever and a place to put the fulcrum, the Greek mathematician Archimedes said, he could move the world. “Leverage questions” offer that kind of power to salespeople. These are open ended questions designed to uncover the hot-button emotional issues that actually drive a customer’s buying decision. What key benefits do buyers want to gain by making the purchase, either for their companies or, more critically, for themselves?
In other words, leverage questions are queries that allow the salesperson to find out, from the buyer’s perspective, “What’s really in it for me?” This tells the salesperson which needs are most critical to address when presenting product features and benefits. What’s more, by clarifying the actual stakes of the decision in the customer’s mind, leverage questions serve to “turn up the emotional heat,” making the expected gains even more desirable to the buyer.
Leverage questions turn up the heat by clarifying what’s at stake for the buyer, not just the seller.
As you ask open ended questions to investigate a customer’s needs, you will come upon some needs that seem to have a particular urgency. Whenever you suspect this is the case, ask a leverage question to confirm your hunch and clarify the situation.
Examples of leverage questions: “How has this problem affected your company?” “How has it affected you, personally?” “What are the consequences if the problem continues?” “How are your customers affected?” “What opportunities does this situation represent for the company and for you?”
Good leverage questions identify what’s at stake for the buyer’s company, but the very best ones aim at discovering the customer’s personal hot buttons. Unless the buyer owns the company, boosting productivity or decreasing waste are not gut issues.
Here’s a gut issue: “How will I be better off if I bring this solution to my employer? Will I look like a genius? Will I get a promotion? A bonus? Some recognition I crave?”
By clarifying what’s really at stake with a business problem or opportunity, leverage questions increase the customer’s desire for a solution. And they let the salesperson know how to present a product as the right solution to the right issues.
Action Selling In Action
Leverage questions offer the highest payoff when they are used in the context of a full-scale sales strategy – a strategy that tells you how to build up to asking such questions and what to do with the information after you’ve uncovered it. That’s what Action Selling provides.
The national sales director of retail-photocopy giant Kinko’s puts it this way: “By learning to sell via the Action Selling process, our salespeople now know where they stand at every stage during a call and can proceed strategically. They are better able to manage a sales call from start to finish.