The Magic Question

While working with a salesperson last week, I had the opportunity to call on an account she’d been trying to get for several years. The prospect really respected the salesperson, had a great deal of confidence in her, but she’d never been able to get them “over the hump”.

While she’d done a great job of “chipping away at it” and getting a few products in but never getting all the business and supplanting the current supplier.

On our initial visit, the discussion turned to price and I tried to steer it in another direction. During that process I asked the prospect, “What can we do for you? How can we help you grow your business or get a better handle on it?”

She paused for a second. And soon began to list a few things she needed help with—all of which the salesperson who had been calling on her was more than capable of handling. All of a sudden, it wasn’t about price, but about how the salesperson could help the prospect.

We talked about a follow up plan and left. I would call it a good meeting.

Later that night I was at dinner when my cell phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but answered anyway.



“Hey, this is (the prospect), do you have a moment?”

“Absolutely, what can I do for you?”

The prospect then proceeded to tell me she’d been in business since 1993 and that in all those years nobody had ever asked her what they could do for her! No one had ever asked how they could help her grow or manage her business.

“I just wanted to let you know that really hit home with me today and I am about to call (the salesperson) and let her know I’m giving her all my business.”

I was a bit stunned.

“One more thing,” she said. “What you didn’t know today is that I bought out a partner in this business last November. I called him today and told him he needed to talk to you. He has 19 locations and would like you to call tomorrow.”


I never expected that. But, here’s the key: when I asked how we could help her or what we could do for her business, I was sincere. There were no ulterior motives. I had no idea there was more business available and it wouldn’t have made a difference if I did know that.

I treated her with respect and truly wanted to be a resource for her.

Needless to say, it looks to be the beginning of a great long-term relationship for the salesperson I was working with and the customer.

All because I asked the question.

Are you asking prospects how you can help them? Well, you should be! Immediately.


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