What to say to sell your service and how to answer the common ‘How much’ question. By asking the right questions and knowing what exactly to say you can win a deal. Lead the dialogue the way that people would want to buy from you, via @MarinaBarayeva. #selling #business #smallbusiness #smallbiz #entrepreneur #entrepreneurship #businesstips #marketing #creativeentrepreneur #creativebusiness #mompreneur #womaninbiz #ladyboss

By asking the right questions and knowing what exactly to say you can win a deal. Lead the dialogue the way that people would want to buy from you. You also will be surprised that some words can ruin your conversation completely and as a result you lose a client.

In this episode, Phil M. Jones shares tips on exactly what to say to sell your service and how to answer the common ‘How much’ question.

Phil has made it his life’s work to demystify the sales process, reframe what it means to “sell” and help his audiences to learn new skills that empower confidence, overcome fears and instantaneously impact bottom line results.

Author of five international best-selling books, and the youngest ever winner of coveted “British Excellence in Sales and Marketing Award”, Phil is currently one of the most in-demand assets to companies worldwide.

In this episode, we will cover:

  • [00:22] About the episode and Phil M. Jones
  • [01:42] Phil’s first business was cleaning cars in his fifteens which brought him to the point when he made more money than his teachers at that time
  • [03:05] How the 2008 recession brought Phil’s retail & real estate businesses to a halt but allowed him to elucidate a common, but key struggle: how to sell and grow existing customers
  • [05:00] At the age of 18 Phil became youngest sales manager in the company where he worked that time
  • [05:42] People look for a direction that’s why all Phil’s books about exactly ‘what’ and ‘
  • [07:15] Why Exactly What to Say book should actually be called Exactly What to Ask and why you need to learn to ask better questions
  • [09:13] Why selling is actually more about consulting and understanding
  • [10:17] An example of the remodeling contractor’s business positioning which is all about price – and why they’ll never make a sale
  • [11:48] What to say when people ask “How much?” question and why you shouldn’t tell the price right away
  • [13:18] “How much?” actually means “I think I might be interested in doing business with you.”
  • [16:52] Why you can go over your client’s budget – and it’s OK
  • [19:11] Your clients want you to talk and recommend, even when you have set prices and descriptions
  • [20:43] Why you need to take control of your answers with your potential clients
  • [22:34] Exactly what to say and ask when you sell your service and an example of the conversation
  • [26:53] The ‘just imagine’ example, that you can use to get results you want from the conversation. People make decisions twice: in their mind, then in reality
  • [28:50] How to ask the questions to lead people to get the outcome you want
  • [31:19] What you can do right now to improve your communications with the customers
  • [34:58] The best incentive for removing powder words from your vocabulary – supporting your biggest competitor
  • [35:48] Where to find Phil online
  • [36:33] For the show notes go to marinabarayeva.com and subscribe to the Marketing for Creatives show

3 Things That Will Help You to Sell Your Service When You Communicate with the Potential Client

  • Craft a great response to your most common questions that people ask about your business
  • Practice when the next time someone will ask you “What do you do?” ask “Would it be OK if I can give you a scenario of the types of things that we do?”, then tell them your story
  • Pay attention to your word choices and ban ‘powder words’
'The person who’s in control of the conversation is the one who’s asking the questions' ~ Phil JonesClick To Tweet
'Your job is not to sell anything, your job is to help your client through the decision-making process' ~ Phil Jones Click To Tweet
'What every buyer is looking for is, “Show me that you know me” ' ~ Phil Jones Click To Tweet

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What to say to sell your service and how to answer the common ‘How much’ question. By asking the right questions and knowing what exactly to say you can win a deal. Lead the dialogue the way that people would want to buy from you, via @MarinaBarayeva. #selling #business #smallbusiness #entrepreneur #creativebusiness #mompreneur #womeninbusiness #ladyboss #quotes #quotesoftheday #businessquotes
What to say to sell your service and how to answer the common ‘How much’ question. By asking the right questions and knowing what exactly to say you can win a deal. Lead the dialogue the way that people would want to buy from you, via @MarinaBarayeva. #selling #business #smallbusiness #entrepreneur #creativebusiness #mompreneur #womeninbusiness #ladyboss #quotes #quotesoftheday #businessquotes

Download podcast transcript [PDF] here:

Resources from this interview:

Connect with Marina Barayeva:

Exactly What to Say to Sell Your Service (and How to Answer ‘How Much?’ Question) – Interview Transcription

What to say to sell your service and how to answer the common ‘How much’ question. By asking the right questions and knowing what exactly to say you can win a deal. Lead the dialogue the way that people would want to buy from you, via @MarinaBarayeva. #selling #business #smallbusiness #smallbiz #entrepreneur #entrepreneurship #businesstips #marketing #creativeentrepreneur #creativebusiness #mompreneur #womaninbiz #ladybossMarina Barayeva:

Phil, please share with us your entrepreneurial story.

Phil M. Jones:

I’m trying to see where I take this back to! I’ve been in business for quite some time. I started when I was fourteen years of age. My first business had me knocking on the doors of my neighbors, asking them quite politely whether they would be interested in having their cars washed.

Some said yes, some said no, most just asked me how much money I would charge, which I very quickly realized meant they were remarkably interested.

I did kind of OK with my little car cleaning business. So much so that by the age of fifteen, I wasn’t going to school quite as often as I should. I remember being invited in by my school teachers, and the reality of it was is I was making more money than most of my school teachers at that tender age of fifteen.

I bought a number of small entrepreneurial businesses and continued to do that through my teens. At the age of eighteen, was faced with the dilemma of what I wanted to do next.

My parents wanted me to go to university. I had an offer for a fantastic school to go and further my education from there. But I wanted to get my education in the field.

I ended up taking the role and becoming the youngest ever sales manager for one of the largest retail department store groups in the UK.

Went from there, opening stores for them up and down the UK. Went from there to then work with one of the largest furniture retail businesses in the United Kingdom, helping turn around broken stores and then contributing towards the sales training processes.

From that point, I then became head of retail commercial director at two premier league soccer clubs, and helped negotiate some shirts sponsorship deals, helped set up their retail operations, and from that point, I built a property business that then turned over 240 million pounds at its peak on the sales team of five.

After that point, that brings us to 2008 – the world got a little bit stickier. I don’t know how much the listeners remember about what may have happened in their world when their economic crisis kicked in, but our business was great on a Monday, by Friday, we had a product we couldn’t give away. We had to change and adapt in our business.

As we brought that business down, what I looked towards the world was to say, “Where are people finding it difficult?” In the small business arena that I was very much operating in at the time, one of the challenges many of the businesses were having through those recessionary times is that they couldn’t win new clients.

They didn’t know how to grow their existing customers. They really didn’t know how to sell. What I started to do was to deliver small workshops and seminars to that small, independent business owner group in the middle of England where I was living at that time.

Those seminars started to grow. Ten people became twelve, became a coaching business, became then starting to write and license my IP, became then franchising my one day workshop, became then writing my first book, became traveling the world.

As I now sit here today, I have a multifaced business that is all stemmed around my ability to help people to be able to sell stuff. And we spoke on 50+ different countries, 2 million sales professionals trained, written five best-selling books – it’s been a blast so far.

That’s a high level, run over of my professional career to date.

Marina Barayeva:

Wow, how old were you when you said you were the youngest salesperson in the company?

Phil M. Jones:

I was the youngest sales manager in the company – I was 18 years of age at that point.  I’ve been kind of one of the youngest through a lot of things that I’ve managed to do so far.

It’s quite nice to continue to feel like I’ve had a head start but I’m wondering if those days are over now that I’m into my mid-30s.

Marina Barayeva:

How did you come onto this idea to share with people what they should say? You have several books with Exactly How to Sell, Exactly What to Say, and then your new book is going to be live soon on Exactly Where to Start. It looks like you give people the directions – exactly do this, this, and this.

Phil M. Jones:

[Laughter] I try to have some precision through my work, and I figure that one of the things that lots of people find difficult particularly in the world of entrepreneurship and small business ownership is “What do I do?”, “What do I say?”, “What happens next?”

Everybody has good ideas inside them, and the majority of people have the passion, dedication, and are prepared to do the hard work that’s involved, but often what’s lacking is leadership or direction.

The question that you asked of me about Exactly What to Say; a book on word choices is that one of the things that I found to be the biggest difference between those that did fine and those that did great is that those that great knew exactly what to say, when to say it, and how to make it count. They knew about the power of the right words at the right time to influence the behavior or decisions of other people.

What I wanted to do with that book was to distill down some of that success language into a simple, easy to be able to digest, small, potent book that gave people confidence in conversation, and the result of which would be that they would have growth in their conversion rates and growth in their transaction success.

That book was very much produced based on the experience I gathered from training over two million people, and working with thousands of businesses around the world, and looking at what is the difference in the individuals that get great results and those that do just so-so, and then distilling that language into a simple book. That was the reason and motivation behind that one.

Marina Barayeva:

But how can you tell people what to say if you don’t know exactly the situation?

Phil M. Jones:

Everything is circumstantial, correct? We’re not looking at being able to say, “Here is exactly what you need to say” without knowing the conversation.

What we’re saying is, “Here are some guiding principles to help you understand in scenarios and situations like this; this is what you might want to ask.”

There’s a really important theme that runs through Exactly What to Say that’s easy to overlook. The theme is this: The person who’s in control of the conversation is the one who’s asking the questions. Not the one who’s giving the answers or knows exactly what to say.

What to say to sell your service and how to answer the common ‘How much’ question. By asking the right questions and knowing what exactly to say you can win a deal. Lead the dialogue the way that people would want to buy from you, via @MarinaBarayeva. #selling #business #smallbusiness #entrepreneur #creativebusiness #mompreneur #womeninbusiness #ladyboss #quotes #quotesoftheday #businessquotes

It should really be called, Exactly What to Ask. But then, it wouldn’t be anywhere nearly as attractive to people to pick up and see the cover.

The thing is, when you’re asking questions, you don’t have to be right or wrong. The thing that fuels the majority of business conversations is sometimes greed or outcome-focused towards that other service provider.

The thing that I encourage people to fuel more conversations is the fuel of curiosity. We should be looking more to be able to understand the other person’s circumstances or situation before we can talk into it.

What the words in Exactly What to Say provides you with is the ability to steer some of those conversations to help you gather enough evidence to find the position advantage, so what you can then do is to make recommendations more easily based on the knowledge on which you’ve gathered.

That’s the thing that makes it universally applicable – is the fact that what we’re doing here is we’re not saying “Here is a script”; we’re saying “Here are some tools to help you uncover more facts in conversations, more feelings in conversation, for you to be more in control of conversations, so you can move into a position of recommending outcomes based on a position of trust.

Marina Barayeva:

Basically, the person who asks the questions is the one who leads the conversation and depending on how you will lead it, you can get the client or you can lose the client?

Phil M. Jones:


Marina Barayeva:

What are the main principles that people can apply to their conversational skills to get the outcome they want?

Phil M. Jones:

The first thing to do is to seek to understand, first of all. Which means that you must first listen. A conversation that often comes to many business owners is the question “How much?”

Now, the worst time to think about the thing you are going to say is in the moment you are saying it. More often than not, what a business owner does with the “How much?” question is respond with the answer.

They typically respond with an answer lacking in posture, they typically respond to the answer via email or in the form of a written proposal and they’re not involved in a conversation to be able to discuss the precise needs of that given client in that moment in time.

We learned earlier on that the person who is in control of the conversation is the one who is asking the questions. When somebody asks you “How much?”, who’s in control of that conversation? It’s the client, it’s the prospect, it’s the customer.

We need to move into a position of control, and we do this through asking more intelligent questions. A simple question may well be is:

  • What is it you are looking for this to be able to do for you?
  • What kind of results are you hoping to achieve?

Because what we should look to be is far more consultative in our sales process.

I want to give a real clear example. I’m currently going through the construction and remodeling of my home here in New York. We’re working with contractors to be able to try and get certain projects completed.

One of those things is new windows for our home. I’ve had the window guys out on 3-4 different occasions and what they keep wanting to do is to present me with prices, and then tell me they may be able to offer me some discounts.

Yet what they fail to understand is the very product they’re asking me to be able to buy is not the product that I’m actually looking for and isn’t the product we’re looking to be able to move forward with.

They’ve asked me zero questions about understanding what it is that we might want these new windows to do, how we might want them to perform, how long we might want them for, why we might want them that certain way. What we’re doing is having a conversation about price, on a product that actually, I do not want to buy.

I’m finding it remarkably difficult to even get them to understand that they’re maybe seeing this the wrong way around. Too many people think the only reason that people buy stuff is because of the price. It just isn’t true.

Marina Barayeva:

Ok, then what to do in this situation when, for example, a person comes to you and says, “Phil, I want to book you for the seminar. How much is it?” And you ask the question, but the person says “No, no, no, I asked you how much is it?” But you again ask the question, and the person gets annoyed and asks, “No, I asked you, how much?”

How would you deal with this conversation?

Phil M. Jones:

First things first, I wouldn’t get to a position of the other person getting annoyed, because I wouldn’t be evasive in an answer. What I’d look to be able to do is help them understand that we don’t have enough information.

If somebody comes in and says, “I’m interested in booking you for a future event,” my first response would be, “Well, what is it about me that makes you think I might be the right fit?”

Have them then share back the story about how they found me, what they’ve seen about my work, what they understand about the things we’ve done up until right now.

I’m then going to ask, “When is it, and where is it?” I’m then going to ask, “How many people are in the audience?” I’m going to ask, “Who is it they’ve had at previous events in the past?” I’m going to ask, “What’s their experience of working with a paid professional speaker?”

The answer to those questions is going to help me shape the set of circumstances so I can make a more concrete recommendation.

Also, at this moment in time when they’re asking the “How much?” question, without me knowing where it is, when it is, how long they want me to speak for, whether they want me to prepare something custom, whether they’re looking for me to be able to deliver something that I’ve delivered before, I’m not in a position to be able to give a number.

Whereas when we go down to the understanding of those questions, what we start to do is become more collaborative in a partnership-style approach, finding out what the answers are – and they are not being evasive in my pricing.

What I would then look to be able to do is once I’ve got those numbers from them, I’ll say “Well, based on what it is you’ve said, what I think we’ll be able to do for you is this, this, this, this, and this. We can do all of that for just $_____” and then I’d tell them my price.

I’m not trying to not give a price, but I’m looking to be able to do is first understand truly what it is that somebody’s looking for.

If somebody is saying, “How much is a website?”, and you have a web development company, it’s no different to somebody saying, “How much is a wedding dress?”, “How much is a diamond ring?”, “How much is a watch?”, “How much is a house extension?”

Without the right amount of data points coming back to that in the other direction, we’re really hoping, wishing, and praying.

When somebody’s asking the “How much?” question, very rarely are they looking to be able to get a direct answer. It’s just one of the few ways that many humans are trained to be able to enter into a conversation that may lead towards a buying decision.

When somebody says “How much?”, what they’re really saying is “I quite like this; I think I might be interested in doing business with you.”

We do need to be honest with our answers, but we need to first get to a position to understand what the real question is that they’re asking.

Let’s take the website example. If somebody says, “How much is a website with you?”, and you own a small digital design company, you’re going to ask the question of:

  • What are you looking for the website to be able to do?
  • How many pages might be involved in it?
  • Who’s going to be doing the copyrighting?
  • What do you currently have involved in brand assets?
  • What’s the quality of the photography you have available right now?
  • Do you have existing design assets, in terms of logos, etc.?
  • How much consultation are you going to be requiring?

Who’s going to be taking care of the optimization on the back end in order to be able to make sure the site is optimized for search engines?

What’s going to happen with regards to promotion of the website on from that point?

The minute you lead into some of these questions, quite often what happens is the person on the other side of the conversation goes, “Oh yeah, you’re right. This isn’t just about getting a number. This is about being able to get to an understanding of truly what it is that we’re looking to get a provider price for.”

Many of the services that we provide to small business owners are consultative. They’re varied. The mistake that happens when someone says, “No, no – we can build your website. It’s $5,000.” Because what must be happening in that scenario is that you’re shooting blind. You’re just making this decision all about price.

The consultation process is part of you proving your worth and value towards that client before you ask for the money. If the price comes before value, price always looks bigger, whereas if the value comes out ahead of price, then the value looks bigger and people find it easy to be able to do business with you.

Now, quite often when people look to be able to consult with me about some of the work that we might be able to do for them, there are many occasions that we find out that I’m the wrong fit for them, because the money that I value my service at is greater than the funds they have available for them to invest in that moment.

However, that still means that on those scenarios when we go through this process, we both walk away understanding it isn’t that I failed to sell, it’s that it was a wrong fit between me and that client.

What they were looking for was something different to what I was selling; something different than what was available. That keeps confidence high. We’re not looking to please all the people or sell to everybody. We’re looking to be able to join together the relationships where the fit is right, where both parties can get at least what they expected or more than what they expected.

Marina Barayeva:

Then in this situation, you also need to know the budget of the buyer to know if he is the right fit for you or if he cannot afford you, and you just waste time on the consultation.

Phil M. Jones:

Not necessarily. I think we have to go through that experience. Have you ever spent more money on something than you said you would? Because almost everybody does. We always spend more money on things than we say we would.

Providing what we understand is that we see the value in that the right way around. If we’re starting to say to somebody, “What’s their budget?”; let’s take my world as a professional speaker. Quite often, I bump into scenarios where the budget somebody had in mind was less than what the sum of money was that I was asking for.

However, through the conversation I can help them see that working with myself would deliver more than what they expected, and they would be preferred, but to realign their budget in order to then be able to work with me.

The same may well happen on a construction project. Let’s take the window scenario that we were talking about earlier. Say that what I’ve done is I’ve budgeted $10,000 to do new windows on my home. It doesn’t mean $10,000 is the only money I have to spend, it means $10,000 is the sum of money I budgeted to be able to spend.

If I have a meaningful conversation with a professional who helped me understand the difference between the $8,000 option, the $12,000 option, and the $16,000 option, and I decide that the $16,000 option is better for me, then there’s a good possibility that I’ll find the money.

But if we go down the tracks of saying, “What’s your budget?” and the only thing I recommend is something that falls within that budget, but that doesn’t deliver to the promise or hopes or dreams or outcomes of the client, then the risk in that is that the client ends up buying the wrong thing and ends up disappointed and wishes they made a different decision.

We have a responsibility in the role, both as buyers and as sellers to be able to explore the truth in the conversation, so that our recommendations are aligned for the long term.

What we should be doing more as buyers is approaching conversations not saying “How much is it?”, but more so saying that “I have this problem and I’m wondering whether you can help me fix it.”

My approach towards the window company would be more along the lines of “I’m looking to upgrade the windows of my home. I’m wondering what options are available to me?” more so than “How much for new windows?”

Marina Barayeva:

Then what about those people who have packages all already set their prices? They already know the price.

Phil M. Jones:

Sure, but what we still need to be able to do is get to a position of recommending within those packages. More often than not if I look at any service provider’s bundled package offerings, there’s wording in there and there’s list of bullets that aren’t necessarily completely transparent towards what the buyer understands about their service.

So, we might lead into that and say, “We have four levels of service that we can provide. I want to help understand what might be the best fit for you. Please tell me a little bit more about your business, what it is you’re looking to be able to do and achieve, what kind of level of service you’re looking for from a service provider like ourselves, and we’ll see if we can explore the possibilities and find out which one is going to be right for you.”

One of the big reasons that many buyers come towards people like yourselves or other service providers is because they believed you are an expert.

Our responsibility is to then behave like experts by asking questions so that we can make recommendations, which means you should think of yourself more like a doctor, than a traditional, stereotypical salesperson. If you walked into a doctor’s surgery, and they said “I’ve got three solutions for you, and it’s this price, this price, and this price; which one would you like to have?”, you’d probably look to change your doctor.

Marina Barayeva:

Then, for example, we have the clients come to you and you start asking them questions. Do you have any sets of questions which you would ask people? Do you have any recommendations that you would recommend our listeners to ask the client? Or, you just ask depending on what people say?

Phil M. Jones:

For recommendations of specific questions, we need to understand the specific scenarios. What everybody should be in agreement with is that the worst time to think about the thing you’re going to say is in the moment in which you’re saying it.

For many of us in business, many of our conversations are entirely repetitive. We find ourselves with requests coming at us that are bordering on identical time and time and time again, yet each time that conversation presents itself, we find ourselves either at a loss for words or making something up as we go along.

We should look at those common conversations, common requests, and say, “How do I control this conversation from here?”

If a common request you get into your business is some form of “How much?”, then we should learn a question that then opens up from there. I get the “How much?” question from a speaking point of view.

The typical inbound inquiry for a speaker is, “Are you available and how much do you charge?” So, I develop the question which is, “What is it about me that makes you think I might be a good fit for your event?”

We shift control back and we move in the other direction. If you are a service provider, say within the plumbing and electrical space, and somebody says, “How much for a new rewire?” or “How much for you to be able to upgrade the wiring in our kitchen?”

Our first response should always be a question. Now the first question might not be getting down to the logical way of being able to package that price, because do people make decisions based on emotion or logic?

The true answer to that question is both, but emotion always comes first. Something has to feel right before it will ever make sense. Our first job in the decision-making process is to make it feel right for the other person to choose you.

When somebody comes at you and says, “How much for a new lighting plan for my kitchen?”, your response might want to be is, “How did you find out about us, and what makes you think that we might be the right fit for your business?”

“Oh, well I stumbled across you online,” or “I got a recommendation from my friend Sandra.”

“Brilliant! Yea, we worked with Sandra a couple of years back in her kitchen. How do you two know each other?”

Boom – we can go down a set of conversations that all of a sudden creates rapport at the front end of the transaction that says, “This feels like the kind of people that we’d look to do business with.”

Where would my next set of questions go? They would go towards what they have in place there right now.

“In the kitchen, you have there right now, is it changing or are you doing a new kitchen at the same time?”

“Oh, we’re all doing a new kitchen.”

“Is it growing, or is it staying the same size?”

“Well, it’s going to stay the same size.”

“How many outlets do you have in there right now?”

“I have like 7 outlets on the wall.”

“And how many light fittings?”

“I have two light fittings.”

“What about switches? How many switches do you have? Are you looking to change any of that? What are you looking to change?”

“I’m not looking to change anything, other than to just update it all.”

“So, this is simply an update to what’s going in inline with the existing kitchen?”


“Did you consider what you might want in terms of fixtures and fittings?”

“Well, no, not really. I haven’t chosen those pieces.”

“And you’re looking for us to supply those pieces for you, or are you looking for you to be able to then get those pieces yourself and for us to fit only?”

What I’m doing is I’m getting to a position here of understanding what the true problem is, so if I’m going to provide a price to somebody, it’s a true price that is based on us understanding the actual problem that we’re being asked to solve, as opposed to saying, “We rewire kitchens and we’re $3,000 – would you like to buy it?”

They’re like, “Well, you don’t even know what I really want yet.”

And it’s that position of maybe that lack of helping somebody in the decision-making process that results in too many transactions not being made.

The shift, therefore, should be a shift in mindset to anybody listening in is to understand that your job is not to sell anything, your job is to help your client through the decision-making process.

What to say to sell your service and how to answer the common ‘How much’ question. By asking the right questions and knowing what exactly to say you can win a deal. Lead the dialogue the way that people would want to buy from you, via @MarinaBarayeva. #selling #business #smallbusiness #entrepreneur #creativebusiness #mompreneur #womeninbusiness #ladyboss #quotes #quotesoftheday #businessquotes

If you view it as a decision-making process, the result of which is that you close more sales. If you try to sell your products and service, you sound salesy.

If you try to help the client work their way through the decision-making process, then what happens there is you both come to the same conclusion at the same time, which means you didn’t manipulate anybody or convince anybody into doing anything they didn’t want to do. You just helped them to choose you because you were the right choice.

Marina Barayeva:

That’s interesting – when I was listening to you, several times you started the conversations with questions:

  • What do you think about us?
  • Where have you heard about us?

You kind of picture this idea and make them think already of what good things they knew about you. Instead, what I’ve heard is sometimes people ask, “OK, what are you looking for?”

Why do you start from what they’ve heard about you?

Phil M. Jones:

Before you decide what you want, you got to decide if you want it from that person. People do business with people, and every organization is made up by groups full of people, so even a big organization is done with people too.

I think what every buyer is looking for is, “Show me that you know me.” They’re looking to get the understanding and confidence of the fact that you understand my world. With that being true, you’re better to start off with a bigger, broader, wider question.

What to say to sell your service and how to answer the common ‘How much’ question. By asking the right questions and knowing what exactly to say you can win a deal. Lead the dialogue the way that people would want to buy from you, via @MarinaBarayeva. #selling #business #smallbusiness #entrepreneur #creativebusiness #mompreneur #womeninbusiness #ladyboss #quotes #quotesoftheday #businessquotes

Let’s even look at an example from my past. In the business coaching world, one of the questions that would often be asked is, “How much do you charge for coaching?”

Now, wouldn’t I be better to say:

  • Well, why don’t you tell me a little bit about your business first?
  • What do you understand about the services that we provide here?

When you say that, “What is coaching that you are interested in and what specifically are you looking for help with?”

Marina Barayeva:

That’s also interesting that in your book Exactly What to Say you give an example, that people have to make two decisions every time they make decisions. First, they need to decide in their mind they have to picture this, and then they make the real decision. Basically, it looks like you do these things through the conversations which you showed us as an example.

Phil M. Jones:

The ‘just imagine’ example that appears in the book, which is the belief and the understanding that people make decisions twice: Firstly, they make the decision with their mind’s eye, and then outside of that, they make a decision in reality.

Quite literally, you and everybody listening in right now has probably said the words either to yourself or out loud, “I cannot see myself doing that.”

If you cannot see yourself doing something, the likelihood of you doing that thing still lies in the realm of chance. Only once you’ve seen yourself doing something can you then take the conscious decision to say, “That’s what I’m going to do.”

That means if we’re looking to try and help somebody through that decision-making process, what we should be looking to do is to help them see themselves in that scenario, see themselves making decisions as they work through that.

An example to allow somebody to be able to see themselves in any set of circumstances is the preface of the words ‘just imagine’.

I can say to somebody, “Just imagine what it’s going to feel like being stood in your new kitchen knowing that your lights finally work for the first time.”

They cannot help but transport themselves towards that place and see themselves in that scenario. I can transport somebody towards the result of the service that we provide. I can also transport people in their mind into scenarios where they might want to move away from.

Just imagine you fail to find the right contractor in order to be able to move forward with this lighting project. Then what would the consequences be if you get a contractor in place that you cannot trust? Or that lets you down, or is unreliable?

Now, what I’m asking them to do is to see themselves in a scenario where it doesn’t go well, which again helps them to make a more concrete choice that is less about price and more about what is right for them.

Marina Barayeva:

How to ask better questions so we can lead people to get the outcome we want?

Phil M. Jones:

It’s shifting away from the outcome you want and helping them to find the outcome that is right for both of you. It’s creating win-win scenarios.

It means that what we should be looking to do is to ask questions that are fueled with curiosity, seek understanding of their circumstances so that what we can do is recommend our solution and not sell our solution.

Our questions should all be led towards looking to seek that position of understanding. When you say, “How do you ask better questions?” or “What are better questions that we can ask?”, they are all looking to be able to get to the heart of the real issue.

There might be times when what we want to be able to do is to be able to recommend something about what it is that makes us brilliant. It’s quite hard to be able to brag about ourselves.

What I could say is I could create a preface in a question that is prefaced with the words, “What do you know about?” So, “What do you know about different service providers in the social media management space?”

If I had prefaced the question with “What do you know about the differences?”, now the customer is either going to explain the differences and help understand where we sit within that landscape, or they’re going to say, “I don’t really know.”

This then earns you the right to be able to brag about the things that make you awesome.

One of the things that many people don’t understand is some people schedule and automate, and all they’re doing is being able to pre-program in a short period of time and broadcast content towards the masses.

What other people tend to do, and the way that we work here, is that we take a consultative approach towards our clients in which we understand what going on in their business and we create a way of amplifying what’s happening in the real world by being in touch, by being responsive, and by posting manually to all of the platforms. Being a real partner within your business as opposed to just broadcasting content.

That’s one of the biggest differences. But obviously, that second option is significantly more labor intensive and as a result of which, something that we charge more for.

“Ah, got it! Makes sense.”

But see how the preface, “What do you know about?” can lead you into a conversation where you can start to be able to have a more powerful and meaningful conversation about your value proposition or what it is that makes you different.

Marina Barayeva:

That’s interesting. Phil, what are the three key things you would recommend to our listeners? Because we talked about many small details. What could they improve after they listen to this episode in the way they communicate with their clients?

Phil M. Jones:

A few things:

One I would say is get a great response to your most common inbound inquiry. Whatever your most common inbound inquiry is, look at what your responses were words-wise, and say, “Is this working for me? Is this helping? Is this leading towards the outcome and the conversation we’re looking for?”

I bet 9 times out of 10, the answer is no.

What we often bump into here is that people are often giving answers in situations they should be writing questions for.

Get that first piece right. That’s number 1, is to say “Most common inbound inquiry. I’m going to prepare a response for it is it a question or an answer that’s going to help lead towards a greater conversation.

Second thing, I would invite people to consider doing, is to build a nuanced answer to another question. The question that is most commonly asked in the world of business is “So, what do you do?” question.

It’s a question we know we’re going to be asked. Yet still almost every entrepreneur and small business owner stumbles on that, and comes back with an unusual answer, or they give their job description, or they just merely label the industry in which they work within.

I want you to practice a really simple thing for me. Next time somebody asks you, “What do you do?”, I’d like you to respond with the words, “Would it be OK if I can give you a scenario of the types of things that we do?” Watch everybody says yes.

Now we’ve got control. What you now have is permission to tell a story, and a story will always sell, whereas a fact will only tell.

What you can do is have other people start to see the work that you do, as opposed to trying to label it and put you in a box that kills the conversation.

Utilize that question following the “What do you do?” question that’s coming in your direction.

A third thing is consider your word choices. More and more so, consider understanding that the exact words do matter.

When I say consider that, that may well mean recording some of your telephone calls. It may well be that if you deliver presentations to large audiences, that you record them, you transcribe them, you consider the things that you say.

It may well be that you just listen to yourself more effectively and understand many of the words that you utilize that could be sabotaging your conversation.

Let’s look at some of the words that could be sabotaging your conversation. Many of them are powder words, like ‘basically’, ‘such as’, ‘you know’ – all added to the front of a conversation.

“So what we basically do here is…”

Now my guess is that everybody listening in doesn’t do anything basically in their business; they do it so high-standard, yet the word ‘basically’ comes in and loses power of the thing that many people do.

Other words to consider that are sabotaging conversations are words like ‘but’. What often happens in a conversation is that we utilize the word ‘but’ to negate what somebody else was saying, so in a conversation with a client or customer, then we find ourselves in disagreement with them or we find ourselves looking to change their mind and what we say is things like “But what you haven’t realized is…”

Now if I punctuate a sentence in conversation with the word ‘but’, what I’m really saying to the other person is that I don’t agree with you, which means that we’re in an argument, which means arguments end with losers, which means if you win the other person feels that they lost.

Try and ban the word ‘but’ from your conversation and get confident with the words you are using so that what you’re not doing is inserting powder words that are diminishing the success you could be having when speaking to contacts.

There’s the three things!

Marina Barayeva:

Would you suggest to remove these words, the last words which you mentioned, from your general conversations?

Phil M. Jones:

Yeah, just ban them!

Marina Barayeva:

Hm, OK!

Phil M. Jones:

Just ban them. Create a ‘swear jar’ in the corner of your office somewhere that says every time I find myself using the word ‘basically’, I’m going to put $5 in it, or £5 in it.

Then you’re going to build up a fund, and what you’re going to do with that fund is then buy a product from your biggest competitor. If that’s the deal, then chances are you’ll probably stop using the words.

Marina Barayeva:

Ok, everyone’s going to be billionaires soon. While they try to get rid of those words. [Laughter]

Fantastic, Phil. Thank you so much.  That is very interesting and a lot of great tips.

Please share with us how can we connect with you, find out more about you, and just any projects you want to mention.

Phil M. Jones:

The best place to check in and keep connected is via my website, which is PhilMJones.com. Learn more about what I have going on there. You’ll also be able to link out to all of my social channels and plug in with your preferred method of choice.

Project-wise, my books are a big deal and still continuing to encompass quite a big part of what we have going on. Feel free to check out Exactly What to Say, Exactly How to Sell, and on the back end of 2018, we launch Exactly Where to Start, which is a book for entrepreneurs to turn their big ideas into reality. Keep your eyes peeled for that.

My goal is to own the word ‘Exactly’, so let’s see what happens there!

Marina Barayeva:

Fantastic! Thank you so much, Phil.

Phil M. Jones:

Thank you for inviting me on the show.