Gavin Meikle, Head of Learning and Founder of inter-activ

Most salespeople have faced the situation where a prospective client already has a supplier for your product or service. Displacing that incumbent supplier can seem like an impossible task at first but its amazing how a few well chosen questions can make all the difference.

I am not talking about knocking the competition as that isn’t an effective sales strategy. But if the client isn’t aware of any shortcomings with his current supplier then simply outlining all the benefits of your product or service may not be enough to make him risk a change. The old saying “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t” comes to mind.

The good news is that you can use questions to subtly “disturb” the client. Obviously you wouldn't ask “What’s wrong with your current supplier” but you could ask something like “If you could improve one thing about their product or service what would that be?” This is an example of a positive discovery question that is designed to get them talking about a shortcoming of their current solution.

One you have opened the door, you can use amplifying questions to make it bigger.

For example, if they answered your initial question with a reply like “I wish they would communicate better with us” That implies that your competitor's communication is not ideal. Ask amplification questions such as “What effect does that lack of communication have on you or your business?” of “How much hassle does that cause you?”

These questions encourage the prospect to think and talk more about the problems this shortfall causes them and increases their dissatisfaction levels as a result. You can amplify even more by asking questions like “How frequently does this happen?” and “How much does that cost you in lost sales”

I am sure you get the idea. You are opening up the door and creating an opportunity for you to offer a solution to their ills (assuming you can of course!)

Try this for yourself and let me know how you get on.

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