Senior decision makers in general are becoming fatigued by salespeople’s questions. In fact, you can practically see that fatigue plays out over the course of a sales call. Most probing questions benefit the seller. Not the buyer. They put the onus on the buyer to educate you. Those questions can quickly get annoying when questions are overused, or used like an amateur.

Stephen Covey gave a fantastic analogy “Everyone you interact with has an “emotional bank account.” With every interaction, you either make deposits or withdrawals. When you make deposits, you add value and become closer to that person. “Withdrawals” are the opposite. They erode trust, credibility, or connection. Most sales questions make withdrawals from your senior buyer’s emotional bank account.

“Your job isn’t to ask what’s keeping them up at night. It’s to tell them what should be.”

Executives aren’t eager to answer a bunch of one sided sales-enabling questions which will only help you make your point. They also expect the sellers to alert them to threats or opportunities they haven’t foreseen. The more they connect with you as a trusted advisor, friend or a consultant the more they open-up. It is critical to strike a balance between “Asking” To “Solutioning” ratio in your calls with C-level executives. This helps you avoid sounding like an investigative journalist. Doing that requires no more than a few carefully crafted questions that circle around their business objectives.

This is a powerful persuasion method because it uses loss aversion, which drives urgency. Executives become driven with urgency when you show them how their current status quo is no longer viable.

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