Tension has a bad rap. Likely, you do whatever you can to prevent tension, whether it’s during a call with a client or delivering a presentation to a prospect. But, not everyone thinks that sales reps should avoid creating tension; sales professional Jeff Bajorek is one of those people. In an article for Sales Hacker, he actually encourages salespeople to embrace tension, writing, “Tension is the seed of thought planted in your prospect’s brain that grows into the idea that their life would be better with your solution.” And, he believes that being able to interject tension, and use it wisely, is what separates the best salespeople from the rest.
Tension: How to make it work for you
Bajorek outlines steps for creating just the right amount of tension that the prospect will want to buy. But first, it’s all about ensuring you have a connection with the prospect. You want to build a foundation on which you can grow a trusting relationship, and most reps are aware of the importance of having trust. This is especially true if you plan to add a bit of tension.
Only when you have a strong connection and mutual feelings of trust should you attempt to ask the tough questions. Plus, you need their commitment to giving you attention before you can make any kind of impact. Otherwise, your words won’t truly be heard. “You won’t be able to create the distance between where your prospect is right now and where they could be if they don’t give you the engagement necessary to listen,” he explains. “Nobody wants a lecture from a stranger. You need to give them a reason to pay attention.”
Once, you’ve established a genuine connection with a prospect, and have their rapt attention, it’s time to add some tension. Asking questions is how you will do this. This may go against your instinct as a salesperson; as Bakjorek points out, salespeople strive to be people-pleasers. “If you want to change someone’s mind, you need to change the way they think,” he writes. “Trust and rapport are vital, but you are not going to accomplish what you need to by simply being agreeable all the time.” Your questions, rather than being safe, should uncover important information that will benefit both you and the prospect. Specifically, he notes that they should have three goals:
- Uncover your prospect’s needs
- Teach your prospect something
- Inspire your prospect to think differently
Bakjorek goes on to explain how to accomplish each goal with questions that will cause the right amount of tension to get the prospect to really think and dig deep.
Don’t be afraid
He tells reps not to be afraid to ask really tough questions, to challenge their way of thinking, which can open up a new mindset and shine a light on anything they may not be considering. Yes, asking difficult questions can be uncomfortable, but when it’s coming from a place of genuine curiosity and caring, it can do wonders for uncovering new insights. “When you ask questions that nobody else will ask, you’ll learn things that nobody else knows, and that allows you to solve problems that nobody else can,” Bakjorek explains. “That means you can make sales that nobody else can make, so don’t be afraid to stick your neck out and create tension.”