One of the most exciting things in selling is when a prospect leans forward with excitement and says, "Tell me more." To put yourself in that position, you must first get a clear assignment (something the prospect wants help with) and then you must define the problem or opportunity well.
Once you’ve done that, you can come up with possible solutions and turn one into a bright idea (with the prospect's help). The foundation of this is coming up with the right problem statement. As you are interacting with a prospect, float some potential problem statements and ask them to pick the one that could yield the most interesting ideas.
We suggest you use the phrase “In What Ways Might We…” when talking to a prospect. If you wanted to help a hospital increase usage of their birthing center, you could come up with these statements:
In what ways might we get women 25-35 to deliver their baby here?
In what ways might we get young women to visit our website?
In what ways might we get women who are trying to get pregnant to come to our open house?
In what ways might we get women who just found out they are pregnant to sign up for our newsletter?
Each one of these statements would produce different possibilities. Asking the prospect to pick the one that is most on target is a genius sales technique because it draws them in and makes them eager to see what you will come up with. And it will separate you from the other salespeople who are simply talking about their products.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published November 8, 2012 and has been updated.