To become a top professional, you must learn how to sell. It’s actually surprising how little attention professionals give to their sales techniques.
A study conducted by Reagan Consulting tracking the performance of financial services professionals over a four-year period (2008–2011) found that top professionals produced annual growth of 8.4% vs. 1.3% of the industry average. Top professionals outperform the industry by six times.
What are top performers doing differently?
First, they don’t worry about closing sales. Second, they don’t sell; they interview prospective clients using disturbing questions. Winning a new commercial account often means stealing it from a competitor.
Sometimes competitors make this easy for you by leaving the door slightly ajar; other times you have to dig with questions. I like to refer to these as “disturbing questions,” a phrase coined by the legendary Ben Feldman.
When you are meeting a prospective client and winning their business, logic is not enough. You need to use logic plus emotion, and there is nothing like disturbing questions to achieve this.
The concept behind disturbing questions is to make a prospective client evaluate and question the relationship they have with their existing provider. The answers provided will help you to qualify and determine how to position your services and advance the discussion.
As you prepare for your next appointment, focus on interviewing and qualifying a prospective client with a few disturbing questions:
“Mr. Prospect, John Smith suggested that we meet. The purpose of today’s meeting is to learn a little more about you, your business, your relationship with your existing provider and any special services they provide you. We can then decide if it makes sense for us to move forward.”
Here are some sample disturbing questions:
Gutsy? These are the types of questions top professionals use to open meetings and to find quality prospective clients; this is also how they steal market share from their competitors.
Practice these questions on your existing top 20% clients; just adapt them for your own situation to ensure that your existing accounts are watertight.
Before your next meeting with a prospective, write out 5 to 10 disturbing questions and take them along to your meeting.
Focus less on how to close the sale and more on how to open a discussion and establish a relationship. Do this often enough and you will steal your fair share of accounts from your competitors.
 Leading Sales Organizations: The Race to Achieve Superior Results, Leadership Series, accessed September 17, 2015, http://www.reaganconsulting.com/2012%20Sales%20Study%20-%20reduced%20file%20size%20for%20email.pdf.