I was reading an article in the paper today about the trial going on in Chicago of Publisher Conrad Black. He stands accused of bilking $84 million (chump change) from the Hollinger International Newspaper chain through what has been called "a conspiracy to defraud one of the worlds largest newspaper chains." It appears that they had sold phony and fraudulent non-compete clauses and just happened to pocket the money rather than give it back to the company. Another new low in the ethics of business and a clear "declaration of greed". Definitely adds new meaning to the "go big or go home" mantra!
Anyway, there was an interesting discussion about how the defense attorney was able to get Gov. Jim Thompson (Ex. Governor of the great state of Illinois), a witness for the prosecution, emotionally involved on the stand. Great defense attorneys know how to "pick" at a witness and provoke them into getting emotional because they are likely to reveal information that they know (intellectually) they shouldn't. Great cross examiners know, that to get what they need, they have to break down the "intellectual barrier" and get emotions to take over.
In our training we often refer to the need to get your prospect "emotionally involved". As long as your prospect remains in an "intellectual state" they will be guarded in what they will reveal to you. Intellectually, they know there are certain things they shouldn't say, but when they get "emotional" they can't help themselves. That's also why most good defense attorneys won't let their clients take the stand, for fear that they "slip" into that emotional state and cut their own throat (like in the movie "A few good men" where Tom Cruise gets Jack Nicholson to "spill the beans).
This strategy will help our clients avoid intellectual discussions about "products and services" or "quality and delivery" and get them to focus on discussions about "client/business" problems. By focusing on key business problems that are "emotionally charged, you are much more likely to get your prospect to slip from their protected "intellectual state" and slide into their "emotional state". Once there, they are much more likely to provide information that will help you sell them. Information like:
"Our deliveries have been late", or "they are out of stock".
"I hate their rep" or "they have to many rejects and poor quality control"
Getting them emotional by asking problem questions is a good start but then you need to have the patience to not say,"we can fix that", but rather, "tell me more about the problem". Drilling down and getting more information will not only get them emotional but might get you information that no one else has. That might be exactly what you need to be able to "differentiate" your offer from the competition.
Action Step: Create a list of "business problem" or "motive" questions to ask the different types of prospects you call on. Practice with an internal partner and "role play" your questions and responses.