One powerful, essential question you should always have with you.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what music would you want to have with you?
That single question is the basis for a BBC radio show called “Desert Island Discs.” The show has been asking that question of guest castaways, including Bill Gates, for more than 70 years. The premise is simple: Host Kirsty Young interviews a castaway, who identifies the top eight music recordings he or she would take to the island.
The Desert Island Discs question forces choices and priorities. I think about growing sales and businesses all the time, and questions are my essential tools. If I had only one question I could ask to grow a business, what would it be? It’s an easier choice than my castaway music pick would be:
“Who else should I be talking to?”
This seven-word query is the Swiss Army knife of questions. It’s deceptively simple, powerful and versatile, and it open doors to potential opportunities. Here are four sales and business applications for this all-purpose ask.
Prospecting // One of the most effective ways to identify prospects is through your current relationships, such as current and former business associates; family, neighbors and friends; professional associations and service clubs; school alumni and classmates. Posing this question to the people that you know is a pipeline-builder.
Identifying Decision-Makers and Champions // A make-or-break link in the sales process is figuring out who makes the purchase decision, and who champions, or can advocate for, a decision. Asking a champion this question can provide you with vital information, such as their product and service review process, how the purchase decision is made, who participates in the decision and even an introduction to the decision-maker. Many decision-makers sign off on a purchase decision only after a product or service has been vetted by their teams. Asking a decision-maker this question reveals those key players.
Asking for Referrals // Delighted customers and suppliers are among the best referral sources a business can cultivate. The time to ask them for a referral is immediately after you have exceeded their expectations. The approach might sound like this: I appreciate our relationship, and I’m happy to help at any time. I also welcome and appreciate your referrals. Who else should I be talking to?
Reflecting on Business Issues // Perhaps the most important person to ask “Who else should I be talking to?” is yourself. Owning a business or a sales territory comes with its share of rewards and challenges. The issues that keep you awake at night may be a conversation away from resolution. Asking yourself the question can point the way to the resource or advice that you need for a breakthrough.
Back to “Desert Island Discs.” Bill Gates’ top choice is “Under Pressure” by David Bowie and Queen. I still can’t decide on my No. 1 must-have song. What else should I be listening to?