Context Setting and the Rapid Reveal: Putting an End to the Long Interrogation

by Britton Manasco | Jul 15, 2013 | Inside Sales

In this dizzying and distracting world of big data, what your prospects truly value is the big picture.

With time demands and economic pressures greater than ever, there's a tendency for perspectives to narrow and attention spans to shrink. It's easy to get mired in the details and contained in a box. Your prospective buyers often know they’re not performing at their optimum but they're not sure
what to do about it. 

If you're going to have a compelling conversation with them, you'll have to start by setting context. You'll need to widen their frame of perception to identify issues, concerns and consequences of which they may not have been aware. As Dan Pink suggests in his new book To Sell is Human, you must be a problem finder and not merely a problem solver. But you do have to show how problems are solved and what a better future might look like.

Just remember: you may not have much time to do these things because your prospects don't have much time to give you anymore.

In the past, your sales people might have engaged in what I'll call the long interrogation. They would've asked dozens of questions with the defensible claim that one must diagnose before prescribing.

As a sales professional, you would ask your prospects what they wanted so you could
give it to them. That was the heart of solution selling.

This no longer works –- or at least, not nearly as well as it once did. Your prospect is looking at his or her watch the minute a conversation begins. The clock is ticking. What will you do?

If you want to engage your prospect and win the deal, you need to think different.

You must offer a concise, compelling and provocative perspective. You’ll need to share insights that clarify why the current state may no longer be acceptable -– and show the potential costs and consequences of standing still. Before diving ahead and explaining the glorious future associated with your proposed solution, you'll have to dwell on the unpleasant present.

Still, you don't have that much time.

You'll want to vividly and visually show contrast between this present state and a future state that lies ahead. Just make sure you spend a sufficient amount of time exploring the pain and problems you think your prospect might be experiencing in the absence of your solution.

You need to share insights with respect to what you have experienced as an expert who works with others that resemble your prospect. And your prospects will most likely be interested in hearing what others like themselves are experiencing or have experienced.

But, again, the clock is ticking.

This is where we come to the rapid reveal. If you’ve visually and vividly presented your story in an effective way, then you gave your personal briefing in less than 10 minutes – perhaps closer to 5.

You have provided a backdrop for a conversation. You’ve shown the contrast between the present unpleasant and an impressive future. But you’ve done it in a concise, memorable and repeatable way.

You’ve set context for a deeper conversation. You’ve built trust and confidence. And you’ve established your authority as an expert in your field.

Now, you have an opportunity to engage your prospect further. By presenting relevant and provocative insights in a rapid fashion, you win permission to probe further and clarify what your prospect values most. You’ve reset the clock and earned the right to move to the next stage.