Business Development Professionals know that credibility is established by the questions you ask, not the statements you make. They know that the questions they craft rather than the presentation they prepare often dictate the success or failure of the call. However, most amateur individuals in the role of Business Development believe that knowledge is most important. Consequently, they become intellectually and emotionally attached to their product/service knowledge and revert to their psychological comfort zone of presenting “features and benefits”. Though knowledge is important, it is far more important to know what questions to ask and how to ask them.
Inexperienced Business Development personnel try to use their knowledge and intelligence to build credibility. Unfortunately, the prospect is seldom impressed and likely doesn’t care. This is primarily because the call is centered around the BD Professional and their offerings. The prospect is only interested in their own problems and how they might get them solved.
Prior to making a call, skilled BD Professionals prepare by completing an opportunity assessment and call plan. They research the organization, their issues, and most importantly, the individuals they are going to engage. Professionals are aware of what they know, what they don’t know and what they need to find out. They will often know the answers to many of their questions before they even ask the prospect. They understand how and why to utilize behavioral psychology to ask “intelligently dumb” questions to validate or expand intelligence they already possess. Professionals learn to focus on the client by asking a lot of questions. This questioning process keeps them from losing control on a call by making premature presentations or simply responding to client questions.
Professionals work to understand, not assume. They ask, listen, and then ask again. Professionals are confident, but never threatening. Even after they learn all the information necessary to qualify or disqualify an opportunity, they still act like they don’t know anything. They do not need to be the smartest person in the room, or on the call.
“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.”
– Naguib Mahfouz
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