When you ask a question as to why someone thinks a certain way, the answer you get reinforces their position. This makes it harder for you to move forward. This is death in any negotiation.

Take the objection ‘I can’t buy from you.”

The most common and obvious response to this question is along the lines of, ‘Why not?’, ‘Says who?’

But the answer to that only serves to reinforce the objection. The answer could be as reasonable as “we have a contract with someone else”, through to something as bizarre as “When I was a 5 year old I didn’t get a hug from mum, so I won’t buy from you.’

Whatever the answer, it reinforces their position and makes it harder for you to push ahead. That’s because the challenge goes to the meaning of the sentence.

There is a better way.

Instead of challenging the sentence and the meaning of it, challenge the words used.

  • Challenge I – Who here can buy from me? (Maybe they don’t have the budget but someone else does)
  • Challenge can’t – what is stopping you? (Is it as systems issue, a managerial directive or laziness?)
  • Challenge buy – What would happen if you did? (Is it an accounts issue, stock issue or cashflow issue?)
  • Challenge from – Could you buy through our distributor? (Is it a procedural issue?)
  • Challenge you – could you buy from my colleague? (Is it a personal or company thing?)

When you challenge the words used it opens up the conversation to a deeper level of information that can then be addressed. This is how you set yourself apart in the market.

Questions are the focus of my new program Deep Questioning. If you’d like to know how your teams can ask better questions to get better information to make more sales, hit reply and let me know.

As always, I’d love your thoughts here.