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Catalytic Management
Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

For the military this phrase means military personnel should not ask about a soldier’s personal life and soldiers should keep their private lives, well private.  But in sales it has a whole different meaning.

In sales, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell means:
“If you didn’t ask the right discovery questions to uncover the client’s needs, then you haven’t earned the right to tell them about your product or service”.  Taking it a step further, you’re not practicing consultative selling if you let the client alone define their need. The client obviously knows they have a need or they wouldn’t have taken the time to meet with you. But your value should be in defining that need and in highlighting the depth of the need. The prospect‘s or client’s ability to articulate a need and a solution is not an indication that they are right.

I hear you! You’re saying “but I always ask discovery questions, I’m a damn good sales diagnostician!”  Maybe, but not all questions are equal. The right questioning should create a real dialogue that goes beyond the typical questions they’ve likely already heard. The best discovery questions focus on comparison. You need to probe beyond the typical:  Tell me about your challenge?  How has the process been working? What would it be worth to you to fix the problem?

Let’s look at an example.  We worked with a company that had originally said they needed customer service training because their customers were complaining. We started the discovery process with  good questions like:
  • What have you done to improve service?
  • Why do you think service is worse?
  • What are your customers specifically telling you  about your service?
But when we focused on comparison questions, the real root of the service decline became apparent. We probed further by asking a comparison question:
  • Tell me how the staff currently behaves and how that differs from their behavior two years ago? 
  • What has changed during that time?
The last question hit the jackpot: the owner of the company retired and a new President was hired.  This critical knowledge led to these comparison questions:
  • Would you compare how the staff behaves toward your customers and how they behave toward each other?
  • Please compare the company’s culture before the retirement of the owner and now after the new President
The root of the decline in service quality was the negative company culture – something no amount of customer service training was going to change.  By asking comparison questions we helped the client see what they hadn’t seen before. We prevented them from implementing a solution that didn’t solve their problem.

The next time you’re speaking to a client or prospect,  remember what you learned in Sunday School:  “Seek and ye shall find” the right answer.

Don’t leave money on the table or deliver the wrong solution because you’re not asking the right questions.

Call Catalytic Management and together we’ll turn
   Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell
into a mantra for driving revenue.  978-562-5001



Trees, Forests and
Your Inner Child!

We need to take a lesson from our kids who possess boundless curiosity.  Whose free time often includes playing  "big game hunter"!  Getting your clients to see the "reality" of their problem means you need to help them see  "through the trees to the forest".  You need to be an expert at asking the questions that get the client to see past the obvious pain to the root of the pain - you need to get them to the "Aha" moment.  You need to find your inner child and become your client's  "big  solution hunter'!
Oct 4 - 11 
Customer Service Week

Two years ago our newsletter asked:  Is Customer Service Week Just So Much HooplaClick here to see that, like a great wine, good advice is timeless!
Catalytic Management
67 Edgehill Road • Stow, MA 01775
Phone: 978-562-5001 • Web:

Catalytic Management specializes in business performance and growth consulting
including sales effectiveness, customer service and business process improvement for companies
in New England and the Northeast.
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