Getting a prospect or client to speak can often be challenging, particularly if you haven’t developed a relationship yet or established trust.
Opening the initial sales call Socratically (after the initial social pleasantries are over) is a seamless way to transition to the sales part of the meeting and can go a long way to getting the hesitant prospect to talk. A talking prospect is one of the fastest ways to discover his or her needs and put you on the right path to providing the appropriate solution to address those needs. Successfully dealing with their needs often leads to a trusting relationship.
Beginning each call with a Socratic Opener is one of the easiest ways to get the prospect to talk first. There are three parts to the Socratic Opener:
- PREPARATION: You’re a professional. You are not going to waste their time or yours. You are prepared to share information about what your company can do for them.
- INVITATION: Invite the prospect to talk about what is most important to her or him, or what has changed since you last spoke.
- BENEFIT: How the prospect will benefit from speaking first. Please note: The benefit is not about doing business with you or your company. The benefit is about why it’s in their interest to speak first.
Here are two examples of a Socratic Opener:
- “I brought some materials with me today based on our phone conversation. (Preparation) But before I go over them, please tell me more about what you had in mind. (Invitation) I want to be certain to cover what’s most important to you.” (Benefit to speak first)
- “I’m all set to talk with you about the option you were most interested in at our last meeting, but I realize things can change daily. (Preparation) Fill me in on where you are now, (Invitation) and then we can address what you need the most.” (Benefit)
Opening your sales dialogue Socratically encourages your prospect or customer to share information. You are letting the customer drive the discussion while you navigate the beginning of your sales journey. If you are getting information about their current situation, you are moving down the road towards a sale. Additionally, opening Socratically will do several things:
- Sets a positive tone for the conversation
- Shows the prospect that you are prepared to meet their needs by listening to their issues
- Creates a structure for the conversation
- Helps establish a comfortable environment for both of you
Use a Socratic Opener to begin every interaction with your customers, whether it’s the first sales call or the tenth. Vary it each time to keep it conversational and so it sounds like you. Once you have conditioned the prospect to speak first, you may drop the preparation and benefit components and go directly to the invitation. For example: “What has changed since we last spoke?” Even if the prospect doesn’t speak first, you were being polite and offered them the opportunity. Sometimes that little courtesy can separate you, in a positive way, from all the other salespeople calling on that same prospect.
Tip: In addition to face-to-face meetings, the Socratic Opener can be used when speaking on the phone or conversing via emails.
For more information on Socratic Openers and getting the prospect to speak first, please visit Communispond’s website at: www.communispond.com and explore our courses on Socratic Selling Skills and Sales Presentations.