"How are you?"
It’s an innocuous enough question to ask for many people. Too innocuous apparently.
In many people's minds, it’s a wasted question with little if anything to be gained by asking it.
For me, however, it is a genuine, heartfelt question that is all the more important
to ask of others after a torrid last 14 months.
In fact, even before the pandemic, I advised my clients interested in progressing to consultative sales to ask their clients “How are you?” more often, not less often. I believe the question is that important.
After all, everyone is so busy talking about B2B or B2C these days but, when it all comes down to it, business is actually P2P – People to People.
In sales, it’s not easy to clearly distinguish your products or services from those of your competitors – often known as your USP – Unique Selling Point.
Your products, your services are not really unique; you almost certainly have a competitor that performs exactly the same or remarkably similar service as you and if you don’t know them, your client almost certainly does. And they might well remind you about it when they’re about to make a buying decision.
Let's face it, there is very little uniqueness in the world today.
Even the ethereal Faberge egg...there are actually more than 50 of them.
However, you, yes you. You are unique.
The way that:
You ask questions
Your eye contact
Your vocal tonality
Your body language
Your Emotional Intelligence
...these qualities are all a part of you and they all serve to make up the very uniqueness of you.
You are the difference.
Asking “How are you?” requires your prospect to reveal something of themselves, to make themselves vulnerable and they will likely only do this if they trust you. Trust is vital between you and your client. Without it, no business of any significance will ever be conducted if you do not have trust between you.
Trust is the bedrock of any and all relationships.
Speaking to my friend and colleague Susie Mathieson recently, she is in agreement.
During a recent clubhouse call with sales professionals from 17 countries around the world, fully 16 of them placed little to no value on this question. However, in Germany, it transpired this is a popular question to ask of others and also to be asked of you.
I believe sales professionals are missing a valuable opportunity and that is the opportunity to distinguish themselves from their competitors. You can be the person who earns the trust and become a trusted advisor.
An Old Saying That Still Rings True
I believe that Zig Ziglar's old saying “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” still rings true.
I believe, particularly in the context of the coronavirus pandemic that the world is recovering from, that compassion amongst one’s fellow
human beings is of paramount importance, even in business. Indeed, much has been said and made of professional kindness since March 2020.
Asking this question sincerely can make all the difference between being an inane, nothing kind of question and actually starting a conversation of real significance with a prospect. It can open the heart or the soul of the person opposite you and create the impression that you are different; you are someone who cares.
It can make even the most hardened amongst us open up and disclose certain things about ourselves or our operating environment. It can move the dial on meaningful conversations, creating an atmosphere of real discovery as the client reveals things about their business they might not otherwise reveal to others.
That uncovering of information has many benefits, including additional context that you can consider before offering a solution to the client’s problem and therefore you stand more chance of solving the right problem in a targeted, laser-like fashion.
I hope that, if you’ve read this far, you’re intrigued as to the value of this question but it’s vital to ask it in the right way; at the right time and with the right intent.
So, I ask again, how are you?
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