In sales we like to talk a lot about the importance of questions. We talk about how important it is to understand the prospects needs. The concept of questions and probing is nothing new to anyone. The idea is discussed ad nauseam in books, blogs, and sales courses. What isn’t discussed much in sales training stuff is the bigger question, the request. The request is a question, but it’s not a probing question. It’s an ask. The request is an action question requiring some action from your prospect. Nothing gives you more insight into where the sales cycle is than the willingness of a prospect to do work.
It’s a lot easier to ask probing questions. There is little to no commitment from a prospect. Yes, they give you good insight. They help you craft a custom solution. They keep you from wasting your time and your prospects time, but they don’t require work or effort from the prospect. Requests on the other hand, they require commitment. Commitment changes the game.
Ask your prospect for an intro to the CEO. Ask the prospect to put your product in the lab. Ask your prospect to pay more for parts than the competitor. Ask them to give a presentation on how they manage their workflow. Ask your prospect to do some work and you’ll know pretty quickly how interested they are in what you are selling.
I won’t spend two minutes on something I’m not interested in. I will however, give an hour for something I think has value. The best sales people make requests.
My experience has shown most sales people don’t make requests. They don’t like asking the customer or prospect to work. They try to carry the entire load themselves. This may feel good, but it’s not the way to a sale. Prospects want to do the work. They want to kick the tires. They want to test drive. They want to help you make the sale when they like what you’re selling. They don’t want to do any work when they don’t.
If you want to know if your prospect likes what you’re selling, make a request. Ask them to do something. Ask them to work. Request them to commit. If they do, you’re heading in the right direction. If they don’t, you’ve got some more selling to do.
Probing is good, but requests deliver.
(Making requests changes the sales cycle, I talk about that here.)