When your prospects read your proposal they want to read about their problems — in the words they use. When your prospects talk to you before a proposal they want to hear their words coming out of your mouth. They want to hear their business problems and know that you’re interested. They want to feel like peers and friends. They want this because it helps relieve the anxiety they have around the process.

So many projects fail and your prospect is worried about this project being a failure as well. Maybe they’ve already been on the receiving end of a failed project and they’re hyper concerned that this project doesn’t also turn into a failure.

One of the best ways to make your prospects feel like you’re speaking in their voice, and understand their problems, and are interested in those problems, is to use echoing questions.

I hear myself

While it may have been since you were a child, we’ve all entered a big open space with hard walls and yelled to hear our own voice bounce back at us. Why do we do that? It simply sounds neat to hear our own voice bounce back to us across distance with little distortion.

Your prospects are doing this as well. They’re sitting on the other side of a table or on the other end of a call trying to yell out their needs to you. What they want is to hear their concerns echoed back to them.

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Echoing questions are perfect for this. The essence of an echoing question is to say the same thing the prospect just said but in the form of a question. Let’s look at an example.

Prospect: We really need a system to capture leads.

You: So you need to capture your leads better?

Prospect: Yes we’re dropping a bunch of sales on leads that just get lost in the system.

You: Oh, so you’re dropping lots of leads?

Prospect: Yes, well it’s only sort of a system. It’s a bunch of paperwork and for every new lead the sales manager needs to get involved to assign a lead to a sales person. That process is way too slow and as a result the lead has already made a purchasing decision with someone else.

You: So the problem is lack of automation in the system?

Prospect: Yes, if we could take the sales manager out of lead assignment and get it right to sales people we could cut our initial contact by a few days and should get us talking to the client before they’ve made their decision.

Simply by repeating what the prospect said to us in slightly different language we can discover that the real problem isn’t a the lack of a system to capture leads. The problem is that the system they have is all manual and they need to automate it.

The thing about echoing questions is that they don’t really ask for information. Take a second and look back — we never really asked the prospect to go deeper. What echoing questions do is tell the client we’re interested.

It shows we’re leaning into their problem, and prospects want consultants that are interested in their issues and the success of their business. Because we’re interested they want to tell us more; they like being the focus of attention.

Now it’s time for you to practice echoing questions. Talk to your friend or to your spouse and practice using echoing questions to show interest.

If you have a mastermind or mentoring group then ask them to role play a conversation with you so you can practice your echoing questions today.

Strike up a conversation with the person next to you at the coffee shop and use echoing questions to dive deeper into what’s important in their life.

Using echoing questions not only gets more information from your prospects that you need, it shows them you’re interested in their problem and builds trust. A prospect who trusts you is one that’s going to say ‘yes’ to your proposal.

photo credit: clement127 cc