Chew on this: No one wants a drill, they want a hole.

When I first began in sales, I remember many long (and hot!) cold-call “outings” in the local businesses. Cold calling probably wasn’t the best approach in hind-sight but the lessons I learned were invaluable and character-developing. One such lesson learned (regrettably it took me longer than it should have) was the shift from: SELLING to SOLVING.

The “early-day” cold calls were solely targeted around explaining (as quickly and concisely as possible) the benefits, advantages, and opportunities that ‘said businesses’ could experience if they were to work with me. I jumped right in to my spiel and unfortunately missed many opportunities as a result. Fast elevator pitches turned into slow descents from the high-rise offices I had visited – giving me plenty of time to ponder new ways to target my approaches most effectively.

As I started to analyze the methods by which I was “selling”, I started to re-calibrate my focus towards “sales” in a much different manner. Today, I’m certainly no expert. But from that point on – I have learned that asking questions is the best foot forward. When implemented properly, the difference in the longevity of the relationship is earmarked by a solutions-oriented assistance; not a sales-driven approach (client wanting a hole vs. selling a drill).

Several years later, I’m still learning this concept daily and the need to refine the communication with each client and prospect is constantly being assessed. As a result, here are a few takeaways I have picked up along the way:

​1. Ask Open-Ended Questions

a. Something that I greatly respect in All-Star salespersons is their ability to ask great questions that stimulate conversation, while showing a vested interest the person they are speaking with.

b. I always want my clients to be speaking 75% of the time. Knowledge, when appropriated correctly, is power. Ask the right questions to prompt answers that will help you solve their needs most effectively. Remember, they need problems solved; they need holes, not drills.

c. Here are 21 helpful questions to get the conversations up and running:

2. Saying “NO” Builds Relationships

a. Honesty is an asset that is slowly fading in business today and is key to becoming an expert problem

solver. The ability to tell a client “no” or “we won’t be able to make that deadline” will alert your client that you have restrictions and limitations like anyone else.

b. Over promising and under delivering is much more damaging than its alternative.

c. Don’t worry about losing a client because you didn’t make promises you aren’t able to keep. Play the long game. Know your limits and capabilities and work to the fullest of your potential to assist your client – but don’t be afraid to tell them, “No”. It may be the best “move” you make.

d. Remember that “Yes” men are wanted in difficult situations. “No” men are wanted in important ones.