Graham McGregor: Ask the expensive questions

You can ask potential clients 'cheap' questions or you can ask them 'expensive' questions. Photo / Thinkstock
You can ask potential clients 'cheap' questions or you can ask them 'expensive' questions. Photo / Thinkstock

Marketing consultant Graham McGregor explains why asking 'Expensive Questions' is a great strategy to increase sales and profits.

Many years ago I was making a presentation on sales training programmes to a sales manager. My problem was that I doing all the talking and my presentation was going nowhere fast.

I had a new salesperson with me at the time and he was a lot smarter than me. He could see I was making no headway so he waited till I paused for breath. Then he asked the sales manager a simple question.

"Barry, if you were somehow able to improve the sales results of your sales team by at least 10% over the next six months; what would that mean to you?"

The sales manager immediately pulled out a calculator and began to work out some figures. "That would be worth at least $75,000 to me" he said.

And for the first time he started to look interested in what we were offering.

In another ten minutes we had a signed order for a large sales training programme for his sales team. All from the power of one good question that helped the sales manager see the 'gap' between where he was now and where he wanted to be.

There are two types of questions you can ask any potential new customer or client for your product or service. You can ask potential clients 'cheap' questions or you can ask them 'expensive' questions.

Cheap questions are the type of question that 95% of business people or sales people will ask when they meet a potential client for the first time.

Here are some examples of cheap questions:

Imagine you are considering buying a new home and you are talking with a real estate sales person. What are the normal questions they would ask you?

• What is your budget?
• What is your time frame?
• What are you interested in?
• Do you have to sell first?
• What other properties have you looked at?

There are two problems with asking cheap questions like these.

First of all you come across as being just like all the other sales people they speak to. Secondly, cheap questions do not add value to a new client and make it easier for them to decide what they really want to buy and why they want to buy it.

That's why asking 'expensive questions' can be a super effective marketing strategy.

Here are some examples of 'expensive questions:

Let's use the same example of buying a new home. Here are some more helpful questions a real estate sales person could ask you.

• What type of home do you live in right now?
• What do you like most about living there?
• What are some of the things you would like to change about this home?
• Why is that important to you?
• If you could wave a magic wand and live in the ideal home, what are some of the most important things it would have?
• How do you mean?

The best thing about asking 'expensive' questions is that it's extremely helpful for your clients. By the time they answer a number of expensive questions they are a lot clearer in their own minds about the outcomes they want to enjoy (in this case) from their next home. You are also in a much better position to be able to help your client get the ideal outcome they want.

Isn't that a simple way to improve every sales presentation you make?

What are some 'expensive questions' you could ask potential clients in your business?

"The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge"
Thomas Berger

Graham McGregor is a marketing consultant and the creator of the 'Unfair Business Advantage Report.' (This is free and has now been read by business owners from 11 countries.)

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