First, Ask Me What I DON’T Want! | TravelResearchOnline

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First, Ask Me What I DON’T Want!

Salespeople with the greatest intentions establish the weakest connections by failing to uncover primary objections. If you’re engaged in one-on-one sales and want to sell more, try asking me what I DON’T want.

By nature, we salespeople are eager to please and excited to share. Embarking on talk tracks of fabulous features and benefits is how we are trained. So, after asking standard set-up questions cleverly designed to lead customers to say what we already assume they want from us, we slide right into confident sales mode and start heading for the finish line.


During our pitch, the prospect gives us the anticipated affirmations right on cue. We sail into the sale with a smile and sense of certainty. Much to our surprise, it all comes to a screeching halt when politely they ‘thank us for our time’ and say that they will ‘get back to us.’

The finish line fades. It’s game-over. What went wrong?

We failed to uncover the specific reasons that would prevent them from buying. We never asked what needed better clarification. We focused only on the plethora of plusses designed to impress, yet never asked her for trepidations we could address.

As a professional speaker, my prospects always begin the buying process by asking me to describe what I speak about. I respond by sharing my four key areas of zeal and expertise in an informative but brief sentence. Rather than immediately diving deep into particular titles or ideas, I follow up with this question: “Can you tell me what you don’t need for this particular keynote address, based on your previous events or other speakers you have seen?”

I move immediately to disarm and discover their turn-offs. These revelations will help me to highlight things that I do – and don’t do – to avoid or eliminate their objections and obstacles. I remove any reason why they would not buy.

Only when that phase is complete am I comfortable asking them to tell me what they want; their vision and key objectives. I get more gigs by clarifying and cleaning-up the things they don’t want first. You should too!

It is terribly deflating when we’ve worked so hard to nail the sale, only to be stunned to receive a ‘no, thank you’ or ‘we’ll get back to you’. Assuming the price and quality are in sync, here are the real reasons why the sale didn’t fly despite feeling so positive it was perfect:

  1. You gave them something they never wanted, because you never asked and never knew they didn’t want it.
  2. You failed to give them something they wanted, but you never asked and therefore never knew that they wanted it.
  3. They didn’t like you. (Hey, don’t take it too personally, but do remember that people tend to buy from people they like).

Are you willing to try a little experiment? Begin by asking prospects what they DON’T want. They’ll be glad you did. So will you!


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Stuart Cohen, Chief Motivation Officer at StuartLloydCohen.com

If you can think big, Stuart will help you do big! An accomplished 28-year travel industry executive turned serial solopreneur, Stuart is a creator of brands and an energizing motivational speaker. He motivates & maximizes personal performance in leadership, entrepreneurship, salesmanship & wellness.

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