One mistake that I see many new phone representatives make is the lack of asking “yes” questions. This is subtle and almost unrecognizable, but it’s a great way to play the psychological game with potential customers and to win them over to your side.
When someone answers the phone and realize that you are attempting to sell them something or are attempting to get you to donate money to whatever charity you are representing, the automatic response in their head is already “no”, even before you start to pitch. They are not necessarily being rude, but automatically diverting to “no” is an automatic human response. That’s why sales is all about convincing people to say “yes”.
There are numerous ways to get potential customers to tear down the wall that they built up around them. Perhaps the must subtlest way is to ask “yes” questions.
A “yes” question isn’t a question that will lead to a sale. A “yes” question is one which the other person is forced to say yes to. The act alone of them saying “yes” to your questions will begin to erode the “no” wall that they have barricaded themselves behind.
Dale Carnegie masterfully states this principle in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People. He states that at the beginning of each conversation, you should only ask “yes, yes” questions. It’s a way to reduce resistance and it’s a subtle way to get the client to relax on the phone.
It might sound difficult to come up with only “yes” questions, but it’s actually pretty simple. The following is a great example of a real-life conversation I had with a local gentleman who was extremely reserved at first, but by asking “Yes” questions, he opened up to me and it got him in the habit of saying yes.
“Good evening, is this Mr. Jones?”
“This is Alex, I’m reaching out to you from Cable Company down the road from you. It looks like we are having another fantastic day today outside, huh?
“Looks like the Patriots are having a great year again, huh?”
“Before I go any further, I just want to make sure we have the right address, do you live at…”
“Fantastic. Well it looks like you’re HBO series is about to expire next month, do we have that correct?”
Before I even started to pitch the HBO retention package, he was already in the habit of saying “yes” because I strategically asked questions that have a high probability of eliciting a yes response.
“Mr. Jones, I certainly agree that the HBO subscription is expensive, I’m sure you would agree that the economy isn’t helping anything at all. Inflation is ridiculous!”
“Wouldn’t it be great if you could continue to watch HBO at a greatly reduced price?”
“I’d like to go ask my manager if we can offer you an al-a-carte HBO subscription at a lower cost, I will be right back, ok?”
This was an example of how I took a negative reaction to the price and putting a “yes” spin on it. Still in the habit of asking yes questions, the conversation continued.
“Mr. Jones, it looks like you have been with us for a long time, I am curious, have we fulfilled your expectations so far?”
“Great, my manager would like to continue the same level of expectation setting today. We can offer the same HBO package at 50% off of what the bill was last month. How does that sound?”
The customer concluded the conversation with a final yes before we processed the sale and kept HBO on his account for another year. Although it seemed like he was in control the whole time in his head, I was getting him to agree with everything I was saying without being too obvious about it. The power of asking “yes” questions manifests itself more often than you think. I encourage you to get in this habit and I guarantee you will see an increase in sales.