RAB Research Archive

Yes, There Really are Dumb Questions



One of our daughters has friend (Jake) who just passed his insurance exams and is an intern at a big insurance/financial planning company. As a favor to him, we agreed to meet with him and his “training mentor” as prospects. For me, life is one big sales seminar and I love helping new sellers become successful. So, to get a glimpse of how this major company trained its sellers was going to be enjoyable, or so I thought.

We were told that because Jake was in training, he was just going to observe the meeting. Then the trainer started the meeting by asking, “So, what do you do?” Carolyn (my wife), cringed because she knew what was coming next. “We teach salespeople to prepare in advance for meetings, so they don’t ask silly questions and waste prospects’ time,” I said. After some nervous laughter trying to figure out if I was serious, he explained that they usually spend the first 20-30 minutes of a new client meeting getting to know the client. Had the trainer spent just 10 minutes reviewing our website, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc., he would have had some focused questions and would have been armed with information that made the start of the meeting far more productive and engaging.

It’s amazing to me that a huge insurance/financial company has a “mentor” teaching new sellers to ask dumb questions. “So, what do you do” indicates laziness, lack of preparation, and is a horrible way to start a meeting. Ten years ago, before the existence of LinkedIn, Facebook and the availability of information, MAYBE it was more acceptable. Today – inexcusable. Beyond that, Jake set up the appointment and his “trainer” certainly could have asked Jake what we did for a living. He didn’t even bother to do that.

Purchasing magazine conducted a survey and came up with the “Top 10 things salespeople do that buyers dislike.”

1. Lack of preparation. (“So, what do you do?”)

2. Lack of interest or purpose (“Got anything coming down this week” or “Just checking in.”)

3. Over aggressiveness and failure to listen

4. Lack of product knowledge

5. Lack of follow-through

6. Taking the customer for granted

7. Lack of awareness of the customer’s operation (“So what do you do here anyway?”)

8. Failure to make and keep appointments

9. Lack of creativity

10. Failure to keep promises

It’s hard to imagine anyone in the profession of selling being guilty of such seemingly easy things to avoid; yet it happens every day. Sadly, I even caught myself using the phrase, “Just checking in” with a client this week.

Being a great seller can be as simple as looking at the list above and doing the opposite. It can really be that simple. Managers, a great sales meeting would be to share the list of 10 buyer dislikes and have a conversation with your teams about how to avoid them.

Source: Jeff Schmidt, RAB





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