Controlling the Conversation (another misnomer)

by Kenny Pratt

Selling is CaringWhen people talk about controlling the conversation it sounds like bullying.  It conjures images of a bulldozer pushing everything out of its way or a steamroller flattening everything in its path.

But its not.

It’s more like taking a friend to a nice restaurant they’ve never been to before.  Your friend is hungry and you know just the place. They let you take the lead and they go along for the ride because they trust you as the expert.  You’ve been there before, and you know it’s good.  They feel you care about them, so they let you lead.

Less about control.  More about caring.  (Like a Hug)

You suggest the restaurant because you know your friend is hungry and you know a little about her preferences.  You take the lead, but it is an act of service.  Just like when you are the one who has already tried the new restaurant, when it comes to storage, you are the expert.

Because you are the expert, you are in a position to lead.  But you can’t lead blindly.

The fact is that the more you know about your prospect, the more you can help him get what he wants and avoid unnecessary hassles.

Taking control of the conversation sounds complicated. Like it is reserved for the most silver-tongued sales professionals.  However, the process is so simple it is shocking.

Simply ask questions.

The person asking the questions is in control.  Most self storage managers ask very few questions, and often ask the wrong ones.  And this is why so many conversations with prospective customers sound like this:

Manager: Thank you for choosing 7A Storage, how can I help you?

Prospect: How much are your 10×10’s?

Manager: $85 per month – on a month to month contract. We have no deposit or admin fees.

Prospect: Do you have security cameras?

Manager: Yes.  We have a very secure facility.  Never had a break in since I’ve worked here.

Prospect: Do you have any move-in specials?

Manager: Yes, we are offering the first month for a dollar.

Prospect: Ok, thanks.

Manager: Ok, thanks for calling.  Stop by or call us when you are ready.

(Then they hang up the phone.)

Who was in control?

In this example who was in control?  Who was asking the questions?  Most would answer that it was the prospect.  Now ask yourself, who is the more likely expert?  Who is the one who knows, from experience, about potential needs and wants that the prospect doesn’t even know she has?

Questions asked the right way show concern and caring.  They are the most efficient way to discover what the prospective customer wants and needs.  Questions are a way to uncover potential problems or hassles that prospect might encounter and open the door to finding a way around them.  By asking questions you will be more helpful and valuable than if you simply sit back and only answer what comes your way.

The real problem.

The problem isn’t that taking control of the conversation is bullying. The problem is that it has been called “taking control of the conversation” when it should really be called, “caring enough to ask”.

Photo credit: Orderman

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