QUESTION CRAFT: Put the Client First and Trust Success Will Follow
Workgroup report (Servant Sales): Engaging technical professionals in the client conversation
Servant Sales practitioners hone their craft through the use of thoughtful and helpful questions. But they worry that a technical person (engineer, architect, accountant, attorney, e.g.) might take the conversation in the wrong direction.
- Nathan Bares
- Bill Mitchell
- Grace Redovich
- Carolyn Tretina
- Derrick Van Mell
- Carol White
Three Big Ideas
- Preserve the momentum of your prospect relationship by preparing in participant bios and clarifying roles.
- Both the business developer and the technical expert should agree on three goals for the meeting.
- It’s all about the questions: provide insight into prospects’ deep needs and find value before asking for the order.
Things to Think About
What background does the technical expert need in advance of the introduction?
- Define the scope and objectives of the meeting.
- Share what rapport-building steps have already been taken.
- Pretend you already won the assignment or sale and ask how this would shape the questions.
- Consider an e-mail introduction, a short background or LinkedIn profile information on each participant.
- Technical professionals are great at discovery, so recommend they ask those kinds of questions.
What are 1-3 goals for the introductory meeting?
- Agree on how introductions will be handled and the best ‘opening’ questions. *
- Is the BD role to uncover unmet needs and the technician to propose solutions – or a blend of the two?
- Assess the BD role in the meeting: think of the BD person as a kind of ‘Rosetta Stone’, bridging technical jargon and the big-picture view of prospect needs.
- The most valued person is a technical person with the skills and can relate to a client comfortably.
- Focus on more than the questions; knowing every interaction should be meaningful, practice really hearing the answers – perhaps using a clarifying question such as “What I hear you saying is…”
- Request the technical person listen for root causes, perhaps by asking as series of ‘why’ questions.
What three good questions would give the technical representative insights into the relationship?
- *Rehearsing ‘openers’, such as ‘How did you get started in the business?’, ‘Which part of your Strategic Plan are you focused on right now?’, ‘What risks to business success are keeping you up lately?’ or ‘Why do you love doing what you do?’
- The Servant Sales model is based on showing value before asking for the order; so, offer to add value at little-to-no cost (technical papers, relevant articles, research reports, etc.) that support the prospect’s issues.
- End the meeting with questions that improve the odds for a second meeting: ‘How did this meeting work for you today?’, ‘What questions should I have asked today?’, ‘How would you like us to proceed?’ or even boldly asking ‘How can I get you started today?’