The Three Levels of Questions to Uncover Buyer Needs
Earlier I mentioned that it's not necessarily the number of questions that's so critical, but it's the types of questions that are so critical. And what I'm gonna share with you right now has been revelatory to all my students for the last 30 years, so I'm very excited to share it with you. If this is probably the crux of everything we're gonna do for the rest of the session. When I train in Mexico I say (speaking in foreign language). Did I say that right? (speaking in foreign language) This is where the pig twists its tail, all right? This is at the center of it all. It's a saying. So let's look at the different types of questions. There's three different types of questions we can ask our customers. The first type of question is what we call a skin question. Skin questions are surfacey, they're like skin. They're easy. You could probably get a lot of the skin information online. They're questions like where are you from? How many people in your company? How long have you been in busi...
ness? Again, depending on whether you're talking business to consumer or business to business, these are the types of questions that I call skin level or first level questions. Skin level questions is where 80% of your competitors stop. They just ask the skin, the surface level information. Once you're done asking skin level questions, you wanna dig deeper. You wanna get to the bone. Bone questions are, well, they're a little harder, right? They're bone questions. They've got a structure and bone questions reveal problems. You wanna ask questions that reveal problems that your customer is having. But not only do you wanna uncover the problems, you wanna uncover the implications of those problems. And this is huge and I'm gonna give you a quick example. When I was teaching at the University of Utah, I was a professor, an adjunct professor for the Business School, and one of the students there sold consulting and when the customer called in and they had five, six thousand dollar consulting packages they were selling. They were selling live training and coaching. And the customer called up and said, "Hi, we have a problem." Okay, so she's got the problem. "We need to train 30 of our reps, "how much are your courses?" Well, this salesperson said, "Well they're $5,000 a piece." Person on the other end said, "Well, but we've got 30 people to train." She said, "Yeah, that'll be $150,000." She says, "But we only have 20, 25 in our budget." "Ah, oh well," click. Now what could she have done? What could she have done? Well if she had dug a little bit deeper she would've said okay, so I've got this problem, she would've asked deeper questions. How is this problem affecting you? How is it affecting your business? So we round tabled this in our class, gave her some information and pretty soon she started writing down these questions. Her boss got back on the phone, called the client back and said, "So let me ask you this, "why is it that you need this training?" The customer says, "Uh, are you kidding me? "We got some real management issues. "We've had major turnover." Dug deeper, a deeper bone question, the implications of that problem. "Well, let me ask you this, a lot of turnover, "what does it cost you to hire new employees?" The answer? "Oh, I don't know what it costs us exactly, "I mean, when we've done any kinda study "it's 50, 60 thousand dollars and that doesn't "even hit the fact that it's terrible for our culture "and it's terrible for morale." "So how many people have you actually lost this year?" "Over 10." So now we have a $600,000 problem and a $150,000 solution. Well, she got the deal for all 30 of them, because the bone questions went deeper. And I'm telling you this because when selling B-to-B, and I know we've got B-to-B people in here and we've got B-to-C and we have business owners. When selling particularly business to business we not only need to get the problem, we need to get the business case for the problem. What does it mean? What are the implications of that problem and how can we show them monetarily how we can solve it? Very, very critical. So first type of question, skin question. That's the surface level question. Bone level question is where we uncover problems and implications of those problems. But what the best salespeople in the world do is they go past the skin, beyond the bones and into the customer's heart. Because that's the place sales are made. And in this day and age I can tell you it's the only place sales are made. So how do we do that? How do we ask these third level emotional or heart questions? And I can tell you this, generally, write this one down. Who, what, where, when questions are usually skin and bone questions. Why questions pierce the heart. And what you're looking for is one of two things. You're looking for what is their dominant buying motive, their true motivator? How do we, so we've got skin thoughts and facts, bone explanation elaboration problems and then we've got heart. You're looking for what I call a dominant buying motive which is either a fear of loss or a hope for gain. Now does this work in B-to-B? Absolutely, because there are people that run these corporations. So questions like how would this affect you personally? Why now, why is it so important to solve this problem? And you'll be amazed at what you hear. I can tell you for business owners, B-to-C, these third level questions are critical. At the end of the day there's seven key motivators that drive all of our decision making. People make emotional decisions and justify it with logic. We've heard that, we know that, but we don't always do that. Damasio did a study and he found that when a piece of the brain is missing in a human being not only can they not experience emotions such as sadness, joy and fear, they're incapable of making decisions, incapable. A lot of people tell me, "I don't make emotional decisions, no way. "All my decisions are logical." Let me just see a show of hands. Is there anybody here that feels that their decision making is mostly logical, anybody? All right, we're gonna do a fun little thing right now. Now you may believe that, but let's look at what are the emotional motivators. There is nothing more important to look at than why people buy your product. And I can tell you, people don't do that. They don't look at why emotionally would somebody buy it. If decision making, we talked at the beginning, how to sell the way customers buy. If decision making is based on emotion, doesn't it stand to reason we should look at what are the emotional reasons by which people decide?