Security Business

APR 2019

Find news and information for the executive corporate security director, CSO, facility manager and assets protection manager on issues of policy, products, incidents, risk management, threat assessments and preparedness.

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66 Security Business / / April 2019 Modern Selling BY CHRIS PETERSON Get Personal How to shift away from probing questions and tailor them more to the individual While selecting a contractor to remodel our swimming pool last year, one of them – Kevin – won our business because he asked the right questions. His discovery wasn’t simply about the type of tile or pavers we wanted; instead, he realized that I did not care about those details, and he shifted to one of the most powerful tools used by great salespeople: personal questions. Kevin told me: “You know, I can add just about anything to your pool. What do you want? What do you like to do at a pool when you go on vacation?” After thinking about it for a few seconds, I told him about a pool at this resort in Jamaica where we swam up to the bar. The stools were in the water and we would sit there and have cocktails – in the water. “If I built a table and chair for you to relax and enjoy a drink in the water, would you use it?” I am proud to report that I am now the owner of a modernized swimming pool with an embedded lounge chair and cocktail table with an umbrella. As effective as they are, shifting to personal questions is difficult. Here are four ideas that will help you shift from typical probing questions to unique personal questions. 1. Identify the right opportunity to ask personal questions. Kevin started with his list of technical and business questions, and when he sensed some tension, he quickly shifted the conversation. When he asked for detail about the color of the tile, I answered: “I don’t care – I just want a good price…This is my wife’s project.” Once he struck a nerve, he stopped and dug deeper into my personal experience with swimming pools. When you strike a nerve, stop and shift to asking personal questions. They may twist and turn in their seat, talk louder or even have an emotional outburst. When you observe this type of behavior, go deeper. 2. Tell your customer what you are doing. When I told Kevin “I don’t care,” he could have easily ended his questioning and followed up with my wife. Asking an emotionally charged person deeper questions is hard to do, so get permission by making a statement such as: “This seems like an important topic. I would like to ask a few more questions about it. Is that ok?” This statement of transparency removes the feeling of being manipulative, and their affirmative response gives you permission to dig deeper. 3. Make your questions about the following topics. In business-to-business sales, there are usually three types of personal questions: • Job security questions ask about outcomes that will make them more vulnerable in their jobs: “If these losses continue, how does that impact you?” • Job opportunity questions illustrate outcomes like potential promotions, pay raises, and other accolades that could result from a positive outcome: “If we were able to meet your budget, it is obviously good for the business, but how does it impact you?” • Work experience questions help your contact realize the difference in their day-to-day work experience if certain outcomes happen, such as: “How would your day-to-day be affected if the IT department did not manage the security system?” 4. Do not worry about the other questions. Many salespeople prepare a dozen or so probing questions for their sales calls and feel compelled to ask all of them. If you find a topic that is sensitive to your customer and you are able to dig deeper on a personal level, do not worry about getting back to the other questions. If there is time, ask them, but be careful not to cut short the personal questions. ■ » Chris Peterson is the founder and president of Vector Firm (, a sales consulting and training company built specifically for the security industry. To request more info about the company, visit "A statement of transparency removes the feeling of being manipulative , and their affirmative response is permission to dig deeper.

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