Bridge Questions™ are the keys to the kingdom.
We are often asked how is The Appointment Making Formula different from other skills based methodologies for appointment setting. There are a number of reasons, but the number one reason our clients tell us their sales professionals are now setting at least twice the number of Initial Appointments is, hands down, Bridge Questions™.
Not only do they work, but sales professionals who have gone through our Prospector’s Academies™ tell us Bridge Questions make them feel much more confident about their ability to be successful making calls, so they lose their call reluctance. When asked why they are more confident, the number one response is they feel so much more professional when making their calls using The Formula.
Before defining what they are and how they are used, let me encourage you to read one of our previous blogs entitled, Why classic objection handling techniques do not work when setting appointments. (You can also watch a short seven minute video on the topic.) That blog makes the case for why Bridge Questions are necessary—make that critical—to our success when setting appointments.
What is a Bridge Question?
Bridge Questions take advantage of the concept that most of us have this little nagging deep seeded fear that our competitors know something we don’t. It plays on the old IBM sales methodology of instilling a bit of fear, uncertainty or doubt in the mind of the target so that they are open to hearing more.
Specifically, it accomplishes two objectives:
- It gets them to stop thinking about how to get us off the phone for a moment and into a short conversation providing us:
- A platform to expand on our value proposition which reduces the risk of no shows and cancellations as the conversation leads to an understanding and agreement on the value of the attending the Initial Appointment; and
- The ability to qualify a bit before we ask for the appointment again;
- It Bridges us back into control of the conversation after the target asks us a question.
What are the rules for good Bridge questions? Each question should:
- Get us an answer that helps qualify the target and gets them into a short conversation to build value for the meeting
- It must call for a relatively short answer
- We must be able to predict and control the answer with, “…that’s exactly why we need to get together. How is Tuesday at 2:00?”
- Generally, use open ended questions that begin with How, What or Why
The key rule is number three. If we can’t predict the answers we’ll hear 90% of the time, and, be able to handle those answers with “…that’s exactly why we need to get together. How is Tuesday at 2:00?” it’s not a good Bridge Question. (That’s not to say that the question might be a great one to ask in a sales call.)
Here seven examples: (These follow a transitional statement…)
- Ours, when we hear, Not Interested: “I’m just curious, what would be the impact on your business if your sales team were to double the number of Initial Appointments they were setting each week?”
- Commercial Insurance Client’s when they hear, Happy with Current Broker: “I’m just curious, what kinds of things has your current broker recommended you do to reduce your risk to cyber security issues and how are those things reflected in your insurance coverage?”
- Commercial Insurance Client’s when they hear, Not Interested: “I’m just curious, what types of operational changes have you made recently in order to lower your risk profile and lower your overall insurance costs?”
- Ours when we hear, Happy Now: “I’m just curious, what do you think your sales professionals would say if they could set more Initial Appointments each week and simultaneously free up more time to spend selling those prospects?”
- Long Term Care Client in response to, Not Interested or “That’s my job”: “I’m just curious, what length of a long term care event could your typical client’s portfolio withstand before it would begin to impact their retirement plans?” (This question is posed to financial advisers by long term care sales professionals who want to establish a center of influence relationship with them. The answer more than 95% of the time is “I don’t know” which has led to an Appointment Ratio of close to 80%–our most successful Bridge Question ever.)
- Commercial Security Client in response to Happy Now – “We’ve got an off duty policeman that lives on the property”: “I’m just curious, how do you think your residents would react if they saw uniformed patrol officers on the property during the night time hours, and better yet, if they saw them often enough to get to know them by first name?”
- Commercial Pest Control Client in response to Happy Now: “I’m just curious, when was the last time your current pest control company provided you with a detailed pest management solution that included recommendations that were more than just what pesticides needed to be applied—such as looking at building maintenance and cleaning procedures?”
If you’d like information on Bridge Questions and how we get them past that ‘No’ we hear way too often, or information on why no team of sales professionals has ever failed to at least double the number of Initial Appointments they were setting after going through one of our programs, give us a call or drop us a line. We love talking about the challenges of appointment making!
Caponi Performance Group and Contact Science jointly market the telephone prospecting and cold calling solution called Coldcalling101™. It is the only comprehensive solution to solving the biggest barrier to success in most selling organizations—the inability to secure enough Initial Appointments to begin the selling process. We accomplish that through simultaneously addressing both the efficiency and effectiveness of the process. We can be reached at 817 224-9900 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find answers to many of your challenges in our books: Contrary to Popular Belief, Cold Calling DOES Work! Volume I: Effectiveness, The Art of Appointment Making and Volume II: Efficiency, the Science of Appointment Making.
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