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How To Keep Prospect Conversations Moving Forward

We talk a lot about the benefits of asking questions.  Questions help us gain better understanding about prospective members, their businesses, and the challenges they face. We make a genuine connection, gain understanding, and build trust – all because we take the time to ask.  

But sometimes getting the answers you need is like pulling teeth. When a prospect answers your questions with short, one-word responses, it puts you on a path to nowhere. Try these techniques to get your conversation back on track.

Ask for Clarification

Some short answers are acceptable, particularly when you want to clarify details or confirm agreement in the latter stages of the recruiting process.   But early in the process, the objective is to gather enough information so that you can make a helpful membership recommendation.  

When prospective members aren’t as forthcoming as they could be, try asking brief clarifying questions to encourage them to open up.  

Example clarifying questions:

  • I’m not sure I understand?
  • Would you mind elaborating on that a bit to help me understand?
  • That’s interesting, what made you decide to try that?
  • Sounds promising, how is that working out?

Merely taking the time to ask clarifying questions is often enough to reassure prospective members that you care and want to understand their circumstances fully.

Let Them Know It’s Okay to Say, “No”

Yes, you read that correctly. Sometimes prospective members aren’t as forthcoming because they are accustomed to salespeople pressuring them to buy.  Short answers are a natural defense mechanism to avoid backing themselves into a corner.  

In these instances, it’s essential to put prospective members at ease.  Let them know it’s okay to say, “no.” This demonstrates that you are interested in helping – whether they end up joining or not.

Here’s an example of how you can let a prospective member know it’s okay to say, no:

Member Rep:  I think I need to apologize. You were kind enough to take my call, and I’m getting the sense that my questions are making you feel as though you are on the witness stand. 

Candidly, our chamber isn’t a fit for every business.  It’s your call and deciding “no” is okay.

By learning a little bit about you and your company, we can figure out pretty quickly what steps we should take – if any.

I’m wondering, is it okay to continue?

Once the pressure is off, prospective members are generally more open to discuss their circumstances.  

Giving permission to say “no” also diminishes the odds that they will avoid you later when you attempt to follow up.

As always, we encourage you to practice these techniques, make them your own, and let us know how it goes.

Remember, we’re easy to talk to. Feel free to reach out with questions about these techniques or other issues.

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