Yes, you read that correctly.
I first learned of this approach from the incredibly intelligent and innovative New York Times bestselling author, Daniel Pink. (He’s a very bright person who also happened to endorse my last book!)
Regular readers will know that my approach to handling objections is to take two shots and then salute
. Of course, the challenge is to always have an approach you can use for your second shot. Irrational questions are a perfect second shot.
Let’s say, for example, I’m speaking with a customer about the Harley-Davidson Planned Maintenance program and they “take a pass.”
I might say, “Fair enough. Don’t say yes, don’t say no, just be willing to hear me out for a moment before you make your final decision, okay?”
Customer: Okay. (This is my first small agreement.)
Me: May I ask you a question? (This is a permission question, which softens your approach, and which people almost always say yes to … because they’re curious about what you’re going to ask.)
Customer: Sure. (My second small agreement.)
Me: If you were to rate the Harley-Davidson Planned Maintenance program on a scale of one to 10 — one meaning that it’s absolutely worthless and 10 meaning it’s better than cold beer, what number would you use?
Customer: Well I’d probably rate it a 3 or 4. (This is now my third agreement. They are willing to rate the program and participate in the conversation.)
Me: May I ask you another question? (This one is up to your discretion. Permission questions are powerful, but a strength overdone is a weakness; use your judgement on this one.)
Customer: Of course.
Me: Why didn’t you rate it lower? (Here is where you will get a moment of stunned silence. This is the irrational question. Your prospect is not expecting that question. And when you get stunned silence, you have regained control of the conversation.)
Customer: Well, it does have the free pick-up and delivery. And I guess I do like the wash and wax. Boy, the more I think about it, the fast turnaround guarantee is pretty appealing …
What’s happening here? Your customer is talking himself into buying the plan!
And the best thing about using irrational questions as a second shot is that you can apply them to anything!
But what if the customer rates it at a 1 or a zero? Then shake it off, move on to what’s next, and live to fight — and sell — another day.