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Sell in 60 Seconds

Sell in 60 Seconds

When selling, you have one minute to pique your prospect's interest. Here are some tips to make the most of your time.

Tony Parinello, Entrepreneur

Q: I’ve always equated selling with telling, and lately I’ve noticed that my prospects cut me off when I am giving them my pitch. What’s the best way to get my point across and win the sale?

A: I would imagine that this month’s question has value to all of us in sales and marketing. Let’s face it: Buyers are more educated than ever before. What we sales and marketing types need to focus more on is understanding our prospect’s world—and the best way I know of to do just that is to ask intelligent questions. Here’s a rundown of the best questions to use and when to use them. My strong suggestion is that each and every one of us should ask a whole lot more questions and speak a whole lot less.

When interacting with a prospect, you must first seek to understand what’s going on in the other person’s world. Then and only then will your ideas be accepted and understood by the prospect.

The best way to do this is to set strict limits on your own “talk time.” Keep it under 60 seconds. Yes, you read right: You must never, ever speak for more than 60 seconds without asking for approval to continue. This approval comes when you ask open-ended “prompting” questions. Generally speaking, these questions:

• Cannot be answered with a simple yes or no.
• Do not lead, control or try to manipulate the other person.
• Enable dialoging.
• Begin with the words “when,” “what,” “how,” “why” or “where.”
• Require thought to be answered.
• Encourage the other person to reveal feelings.
• Build rapport.

The opposite of an open-ended question is a closed-ended question. Closed-ended questions, unlike the kind we’ve just examined, put an end to effective dialoging and will not get you any closer to a second appointment. Therefore, you should totally avoid this type of questioning as a means of getting approval to win another 60 seconds.

One example of a closed-ended question might be, “You’re interested in attracting new customers, right?” The best place to use the closed-ended question is in a situation where you need to validate or confirm what you think is going on in your prospect’s world. Generally speaking, closed-ended questions:

• Are useful to give feedback during a dialog.
• Can be used to obtain specific information and/or confirm facts.

During a dialogue, if you need to make sure that you’ve heard the prospect correctly, you can use what’s called a clarifying question. These questions, too, can win you a fresh 60 seconds. A good clarifying question might begin with the words, “So, if I understand you correctly, you’re saying that…”.