Mark McCarthy's Blog

Grow The Business

Platinum Question(s) Are Better

with 4 comments

platinum

Longer post today, but I think worth it.   Scroll worthy for sure – maybe even print worthy.  Hang in till the end but only if you want to be more successful.    

If you are in sales or marketing, you’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase the “Golden question”.  It’s usually a crafted discovery question in which the answer tells you the sales person, whether the client or prospect is “ripe” for a sale, cross sell or upsell. 

Golden questions are fine.  Many aren’t that golden however.  [Although I do remember one from a pet supply mail order company where the agent asks the inbound caller “Are you going to get little (insert pet name here) something for Christmas this year?” and if the caller says “yes” – then release the hounds ( pardon the pun) of sales pitches, cross sells and upsells now!!!  That one wasn’t bad.]

Golden questions are fine but have drawbacks.  They usually come out of no where, reek of “Here comes the sales pitch” and have no perceived immediate value to the customer or prospect that has to answer them.   Platinum questions are much better. 

Platinum questions are a term I use for questions that give you the same valuable information as a golden question but do so in such a way that does not raise sales tension or customer fatigue in the interaction. 

In more detail … Platinum questions are presumptive discovery questions that make sense to the customer or prospect. They make sense because the answers are beneficial to them and the reason they called, stopped by or visited your site.  In addition, Platinum questions give you the seller, vital information and credibility to leverage and transition from in the sales process. 

That’s a mouthful so let’s put it to real life.  Let’s say you work in a print shop that does lots of things for a small business like a wide range of print, to designing logos, to providing websites, to offering online marketing products etc etc.

In walks a customer who wants to reorder some business cards.  Perfect.  Now, you could do what you’ve always done and say “Is everything staying the same on these on these cards?” and then (unless you feel like getting rejected) you could start pitching all of your other services.

Or you could ask a Platinum question or two.

  • “You’re ordering more business cards.. Great. Since you last ordered these have you made any changes to your website, your email address or social media sites you use for the business?”

Anything the customer answers is valuable.   Even the simple “No – nothing’s changed” (which tells you a lot) to “Um…I don’t have a website yet” to “..What social media sites do you mean?” to just asking “Why do you ask?”  are awesome answers.

And the answer to “Why do you ask?” of course is the truth – you ask because you are a pro and know that many small businesses put their website address via a QR code and all their Twitter/LinkedIn/FaceBookr logos on the business cards these days (I’ve even seen them on printed checks).  So these questions make sense to the customer as to why you are asking them – these questions are in their interest to help you get this business card order done just right.   And the answers give you amazing, as good as golden information with half the pain. 

Here’s the real beauty of the question; It’s presumptive ( “…have you made any changes?”)  – it assumes the client already has a website and uses social media generously.  You ask it like you’ve been there before and that other small businesses do this all the time.  That’s brilliant on your part because you are educating and teaching at the same time.  It also tells you in an instant; (in a way that does not sales stress or fatigue the customer) whether they even have a website (or ever thought of a QR code)  and how they feel or don’t feel about online marketing (i.e. if they use social media for business that’s a good hint they may have interest in focusing more calories there).  In so many ways, you have a painless transition point to talk about other services much more easily than by just pitching and praying.

You’re not done with Platinum questions just yet in your print shop.  Let’s go for two.   

  • “Any major changes in your business since last time you ordered business cards – any new services, products or anything?”

 “Why do you ask?”

  •  “Oh, well sometimes folks want to call it out on their business cards, or even update their logos to reflect the changes”.

Ding Ding.  You get it.  You asked a presumptive question in the interest of the client’s need to get the business cards done right. Makes perfect sense.  And you learned if you have inertia to talk about a logo refresh.

Platinum questions take some crafting- so do those supposed Golden questions.  But Platinum is soooo much better.

It doesn’t matter if you sell forklifts for a living and are moving into propane delivery services or maybe you sell commercial insurance and are branching into risk and compliance consulting – when those customers call you for maintenance or to renew policies- you’ll have crafted those Platinum questions optimizing the customers current need and setting the stage for further help and sales.

It doesn’t matter if you are in customer service or technical support and have some obligation to upsell or generate leads – crafting Platinum questions works perfectly well here too.  Those discovery questions that help the client get their problem fixed well but tell you much about them and lead to great sales conversations are doable (I know, I’ve helped craft them before). 

In the end, you don’t have to do Platinum questions and can continue to do discovery the old fashioned painful way:  ‘Do you have a website?” “Ever thought of updating your logo”?  or “Who is your current propane delivery provider?” You can do that and raise sales tension, customer fatigue and get what you’ve always got right up to through your golden years.

Or, you can spend time right now by yourself or with your team – and go Platinum. 

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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4 Responses

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  1. Great blog, Mark. Definitely worth scrolling down all the way! Thanks.

    Marlene Trujillo

    November 19, 2013 at 9:48 am

  2. I love this sort of thing right up my alley. Avoid the “Oh no he’s going to try and upsell me” feeling and also leave the customer with the thought “They took the time to make sure I got what I wanted”.

    Winner.

    Neil Dempster

    November 19, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    • Neil- so true– every SB owner gets upsold/ cross sold all day long– they can smell it a mile away. I’ll assume by your twitter feed and comments you and yours were safe in the recent horrible Typhoon….best to you.

      Mark McCarthy

      November 20, 2013 at 9:14 am


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