My prospect is not talking, what should I do?


The best insights don’t come from asking general questions.

To get prospects to share relevant information, you have to explore broadly, dig deep and leverage emotional reactions.

Cindy Alvarez, Director of User Experience at Yammer, recommends abstracting your problem by a level to explore broadly.

For example, if you’re exploring social media recruitment, you should ask about “recruitment.” Starting with a general, “Tell me about how you deal with recruitment?” to broaden the discussion.

To dig deeper on a topic, you can follow a five-why sequence and ask open questions:

  • Who… Who does it?
  • When… When do they do it?
  • What… What do they do? What is the trigger for them doing it?
  • Where… Where do they do it?
  • With… With whom do they do it?
  • Why… Why do they do it?
  • How… How do they do it?

But, the most significant insights typically come from second or third levels of questioning through similar follow-up questions:

  • What do you mean by that?
  • Can you explain that a little more?
  • What else do you do?
  • Why do you say that?
  • How do you feel about that?
  • What are you thinking?

Other techniques to get prospects to open up include using silence, asking provocative questions, and questioning their body language.

People are naturally uncomfortable with silences and tend to want to fill them with words. Many important insights come from prospects being forced out of their comfort zones.

Use sparingly emotional reactions, but when a prospect reacts strongly it’s generally a good idea to dig deeper.


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