Pre-Week 16: P for Problem Questions

After finishing chapter 8 from SPIN Selling (Turning Theory into Practice) and learning about implication questions, I took the most important advice from the end of the book: learn one thing at a time. I understood it’s best to take it slow and learn each type of question one a a time. Kind of like the 20 mile march from Josh Isaac’s story.

Because I feel asking questions come naturally to me, I’m very confident asking Situation Questions (S). These tend to bore people, so I’m glad I can focus on the next step, asking Problem Questions (P). I’ve read about Implication Questions already, so I have to force myself to not focus on asking them. I’ll get there eventually.

Learning how to ask the right Problem Questions

Before I did my calls I tried to get into the mindset of asking Problem Questions. The Huthwaite institute also focuses on learning one step at a time, and they published this (kind of scary corporate) video where they explain how to ask proper Problem Questions.

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The most important use of Problem Questions is not to just understand whether your customer HAS a problem, they help you UNDERSTAND your customer’s problems by asking questions that start with Who, what, where, when, why, how much, how many, how often

Sounds like basic stuff, huh? Try to have a proper conversation and see how often your questions actually addressed a problem instead of a situation. I found myself way more often than I liked asking questions about what was happening instead of what kind of problem the situation might cause.

Practise in real life

I’ve tried to also focus on problems questions when talking with friends and family. As these type of questions tend to be a little negative, I felt I was constantly looking for problems instead of having a good time. So I quit focusing on them in my personal life. I did occasionally, when listening to someone talk about their challenges, find myself asking a problem question.

Practising in business calls…

Of course the best place to practise these questions is in doing the Idea Extraction calls.

Unfortunately, after doing about 6 calls this week, which is nothing. I had only 1 real conversation and I felt more and more bad about doing these calls. Setting up a ’20 mile march’ with 1 hour of calling each day started to feel like I was reaching to the end of the hour just to feel like I’ve ‘done’ something.

I became more aware of stuff blocking me in my calls. I felt more and more negative towards my market, like I got all the learnings from it I could possibly get (which I highly doubt when thinking about it rationally).

Recognising limiting beliefs

Especially after listening to SPI podcast with Dane Maxwel and Pat Flynn where Dane put heavy emphasis on mindset, I just knew I had to change my approach. The methaphor of the Elephant and the Rider just stuck with me:

The conscious mind is the rider and the unconscious mind is the elephant. The conscious mind is unable to control the elephant by force. Even if he’d try, he’d only succeed for a little while, because the elephant is of course way stronger. The key is to understand and train the elephant instead.

I felt this was exactly my mistake. And even though I felt slightly good at it, forcing myself into action, I just felt dead tired by now.

My conclusion was to reshift my focus on understanding my mind, retraining it by removing blocks and negative thinking I come across.