“What’s your single biggest challenge?”
I wish I had a dollar for every time I was asked that question because I’d be able to retire immediately. It’s right up there with:
“What keeps you up at night?”
And let’s not forget:
“What’s your burning platform?”
Why do executives cringe every time they’re asked those questions? Because just about every solution-based qualification call on the sales training planet includes one of those questions, and that means they can see your sales prospecting pitch coming from a mile away. You’ve just shown them all they need to know. You aren’t really interested in earning your place as one of their consultative trust-based partners. That type of relationship nurturing would take way too much time and patience. You merely want to quickly qualify them as either in or out of your sales funnel for your month end report.
Hey, that’s fair enough, they understand that time is a valuable and non-renewable resource. They don’t want to waste your time, but nor do they want you to waste theirs. Look, I’m not saying executives will never answer that golden question. It’s just that your timing is terrible because you’re asking too much, too fast. Think about it; do you really think an executive is going to open up to a total stranger and disclose their biggest challenge? I don’t care if you do work for one of the Fortune 500; they don’t KNOW you PERSONALLY, and that means they’re not ready to TRUST you with their greatest struggles. That would give you too much power and let’s face it; executives like to stay in control.
To be able to get an answer to that question you need to take your executive prospecting strategy out of microwave mode and learn how to build personal trust over time. Smart sales and marketing people pursue this goal of becoming the “most trusted” source, expert, or problem solver in their industries and here is how they do it:
1. Trust takes time. Trust may sometimes be forged in moments of great drama, but it is more likely to be formed by many small, moment-to-moment, encounters. If possible, connect with your targeted executive across more than one social platform in order to increase your trust-building exposure. If your target is on Twitter focus there first. Twitter is designed for quick moment-to-moment encounters and is less formal than LinkedIn.
2. Is your social media content consistent or erratic? If your posts are confusing, indecisive, or inconsistent, your targeted audience is going to have a hard time taking you seriously. Remember, when it comes to social media, you are always on and first impressions count.