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The way you pose the question is hampering you and preventing any likelihood of finding the right answer. It’s time to reframe your thinking.


Selling isn’t easy. Every seller has that one problem or question, the answer to which has eluded them since Noah crafted his ark and for which they’d willingly trade that next bonus cheque.

Here are a handful of recent examples posed to me:

  1. What is the best way to stay in touch with all of my clients when I have over 600 accounts?
  2. How do I show this client that I’m different from the other guys?
  3. How many times should I follow up with a prospect before it becomes irritating?
  4. How do I justify our rate increase?
  5. How do I get the customer to appreciate the “added value” we bring to the table?

The problem is not the problem. How you think about it is.

The way you pose the question is hampering you and preventing any likelihood of finding the right answer. It’s time to reframe your thinking.

Take #1 for example.

“What is the best way to stay in touch with all of my clients when I have over 600 accounts?” It’s a ludicrous question. There is no way to communicate effectively with 600 accounts.

A more enabling question might be, “How do I take a smarter approach to organizing and prioritizing my accounts so that I am in touch regularly with the ones that are most winnable and desirable?”

#2 is an interesting one.

I’ve been asked by potential new clients to come to a first meeting prepared to share how salesSHIFT is different to ABC and XYZ sales training companies. It always feels like a redundant question.

Isn’t the more valuable question, “How is salesSHIFT more relevant to you and your current objectives?” I’ve had some of my most productive new client meetings as a result of re-focusing this question.

I’ve seen ridiculous responses to #3 posted on-line.

Some of the people doling out sales advice in these forums and groups should be muzzled.

“How many times should I follow up with a prospect before it becomes irritating?” is a question to which there is no intelligent answer.

“It depends” is the obvious answer but this doesn’t help you move forward.

Here’s the reframe… “Given what I know about this prospect, the urgency of their interest, and the relevance of my offering, what makes sense in terms of frequency and content from the buyer’s point of view?”

You get the picture. Reframing the question focuses you on the problem differently and opens up fresh thinking that enables, rather than disables, productive action on your part.

Do you also notice how each of the original five questions is “seller” focused? And the reframed questions focus on the “customer?” Hmmm.

Now it’s your turn.

Take a crack at reframing #4 and #5.

Better still… here’s a fun assignment for your next sales meeting.

Think of your #1 sales challenge. Write down the related question that you’ve been struggling to answer. Share with your colleagues.

Is your question enabling or disabling? Seller or customer focused?

Have each team member reframe the question and then select, and commit to answering, the smarter question… one that will move you forward.

About the author

Jill Harrington

Jill Harrington

For over twenty years, Jill Harrington was a globally respected sales leader and executive…

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