Leading questions can sabotage your prospecting

Want an easy way to turn your prospect off? Ask them a leading question, says Harvard Business Review. First, let’s touch on why you’re prone to use them: they’re easy to come up with, and seem well-intentioned (to you). More than likely, you’re trying to establish whether your prospect has a particular pain point, or to get them to start agreeing with you. (The first serves as a reference, the second helps you secure more yeses.)

If some of these sound like your go-to opening liners on a call, you know what I’m talking about:

Have you ever had difficulty with x?

Would you like to see more y out of your business?

It would be nice if you had more time for z, wouldn’t it?

Leading questions

If you decide to continue using leading questions, I would encourage you to keep that language strictly to a sales call, not when you’re prospecting through email. The reason is this: prospects are pretty smart when it comes to picking up on sales-speak, and this is no exception. If you’re still learning whether they’re an actual fit for your services, you want to phrase your questioning more naturally, with the goal of getting them to have an actual conversation.

I’d like to learn about x. Do you have time for a call?

Who manages the y that you use at your company?

I have a question about z. Could we schedule some time to talk about it?

If your prospects think they’re the ones helping you, chances are you’ll be more likely to hear back from them. Once you know the right person to speak with, take the same approach. Keep the focus on having a conversation and getting that prospect on the phone. Don’t sell unless they ask for more information prior to that call. And, most importantly, keep the sales talk to a minimum.

After all, it’d be great if you could close more deals, right?

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