Sarah, a seasoned B2B sales professional, found herself preparing for a meeting with John, the procurement manager at a large manufacturing firm. Sarah’s company specializes in supply chain software, but John’s firm has always been a stickler for doing things the old-fashioned way—lots of paperwork and manual oversight. The task ahead was daunting: how could she shift John’s perspective to consider a digital transformation?
Sarah walked into the conference room, her laptop in tow, ready for her presentation. She exchanged pleasantries with John and got down to business.
Phase 1: Setting the Stage with “Can You Imagine…”
After going through the initial slides about her company and its success stories, Sarah sensed some skepticism from John. It was time to ask her first seeding question.
“John, can you imagine a world where your supply chain processes are automated, freeing up your team to focus on strategic initiatives rather than paperwork?”
John raised an eyebrow. “Automated? I’ve heard that before. What makes your solution different?”
Phase 2: Exploring Possibilities with “Could It Be Possible…”
Sarah decided it was time for her second seeding question. “Could it be possible that our solution could integrate seamlessly with your existing systems, reducing transition time and costs?”
This caught John’s attention. “Well, I suppose that would be a game-changer, but we have some unique processes.”
Phase 3: Deepening Understanding with “I Wonder What It’s Like…”
Sarah nodded, acknowledging John’s concern, then posed her third seeding question. “I wonder what it’s like for your team to handle these unique processes manually. Is it time-consuming? Prone to errors, perhaps?”
This question hit home. John paused, considering the question carefully. “It is a hassle, and yes, we have had our share of errors and delays.”
The Turning Point
Sarah seized this moment to connect the dots. “Imagine reducing those errors while giving your team time for more important tasks. Could it be possible that automating these processes could improve not just efficiency, but also employee satisfaction? I wonder what that kind of shift could do for your company culture.”
John’s demeanor changed. For the first time, he seemed open, even excited, about the possibility of change. “You make some compelling points, Sarah. I think it’s time we seriously consider modernizing our supply chain management.”
The meeting didn’t end with a signed contract, but it did end with John agreeing to a trial period—something unimaginable at the start of their conversation. By strategically using seeding questions—”Can you imagine…”, “Could it be possible…”, and “I wonder what it’s like…”—Sarah was able to shift John’s perspective and open the door to a new and mutually beneficial business relationship.
By mastering the art of asking the right questions, sales professionals can transform not just their conversations, but also the futures of the businesses they engage with. It is not merely about selling a product or service; it’s about seeding change and fostering growth.