Impotent Questions - How Much Are They Costing You?

"Impotent Questions - How Much Are They Costing You?" Click The Play Button To Listen To Shamus Brown


Sales Trainer Shamus Brown -by Shamus Brown

A person is motivated to buy when he sees a need to fix or avoid a problem, or that he needs to act upon an opportunity in front of him. He buys a specific product when he believes that it will help him fix his problem or enable him to take advantage of the opportunity.

In other words, people are most likely to buy when they are in a state of trouble, or a state of tremendous possibility. Some people will seek you out as a sales person, and tell you this.

Those are the easy sales.

Most prospects will do not do this however. Most people stay in their comfort zones, wishing not to get too worked up over what is happening, or not happening, in their businesses and their lives until their problems reach a threshold level where something must be done about it.

Selling is a game of stirring up people's emotions. When you become aware that you have a problem that you must solve, your emotions change, in some cases they change significantly. You may get concerned, frustrated, upset, or worried, scared, maybe even angry. How intensely you will react depends upon how you perceive the magnitude and the imminence of the consequences.


In one word, you have the key to all sales and motivation. Consequences give rise to the experiencing of emotions such as fear, despair and anger, or hope, want and excitement. And it is the mere thought of experiencing these emotions that motivates you, me and everyone else.

My dictionary defines a consequence as this: something that logically or naturally follows from an action or condition.

Once you think of taking an action, or not taking an action, and you consider the consequences of that decision, the opportunity for a strong emotion to be triggered has been setup. Whether the emotional response is a strong one or not, depends on you, and your own associations concerning that particular action.

The thought of falling from the top of a 500 foot cliff, smashing onto the jagged, craggy rocks at the bottom, and becoming a bloody, gelatinous sack of red, pink, and purple would cause the emotion of fear in many people.

That is if you really think about it now, and make a picture of it in your mind.

While walking near the edge of that 500 foot cliff then, how close do you really want to get if there is no guard rail? Don't you want to keep somewhat of a safe distance and watch where you step, even though the view might be incredible closer to the edge?

The consequences of walking too close to the edge are easy to avoid, so that is most likely what you will do. You will take the action to avoid the consequences of the potential problem.

Consequences trigger unique emotional motivations for every person. Not all are intense, and not all are enough to move someone to act, to make a decision, to buy something. The emotions that do are the ones that we care about.

Asking questions that stir up consequences and uncover motivations is not a natural way of selling for most people. I believe that the reason for this has something to do with politeness, and a cultural value that you shouldn't get too personal with people you don't know very well.

Yet asking such questions is one of the most powerful things you can do as a persuader.

"Isn't that manipulation?", you might be thinking.

Well, yes.

But is that really a bad thing?

You are helping people to access the emotions that will motivate them to solve their own problems. If they are to solve their problem (and solving that problem involves purchasing something), then they first must get motivated to solve it.

By helping them to get motivated to solve their problem, you are helping them to get what they want.

Because you have been socially conditioned to think that you must be polite, impersonal, and non-manipulative, you are in all likelihood asking really impotent questions on your sales calls right now.

You're getting facts and information, but you're not getting emotions, except when it happens by chance. The facts and information you get is useful to you, but asking such questions does not stir up the buyer's motivation.

For this reason many sales calls end on a rather flat note.

People bond with you and want to buy from you when they believe that you can help them get what they want.

To learn more about how to stir up consequences and uncover personal motivations that can be leveraged into making sales, listen to the Persuasive Questioning Techniques Audio CD of my Persuasive Selling Skills Audio Program for exact instructions.


Originally published in the EGOPOWER sales newsletter.
Find the complete listing of sales articles here.


Sales Training > Sales Tips > Persuasion Tips


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