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Antonio Garrido, Sandler trainer, and new author of Asking Questions the Sandler Way joins us to talk about the best sales questions. You will learn his favorite questions, the right attitude for asking questions, and why you should be asking more and better questions in the first place.

Learn how to succeed at asking questions!

Mike Montague:Welcome to The How to Succeed Podcast, the show that helps you get to the top and stay there. This is How To Succeed in Asking Questions. The show is brought to you by Sandler Training, the worldwide leader in sales, management and customer service training. For more information on Sandler Training, including free resources like whitepapers, webinars and more, visit sandler.com

I'm your host Mike Montague and my guest this week is Antonio Garrido, a Sandler trainer in Miami and author of the new book Asking Questions the Sandler Way or Good Question Why do you ask?" We're going to talk to him about how to succeed at asking questions.

Hey, Antonio, tell me a little bit about asking questions, and who should be listening to the podcast, or who should be buying your book?

Antonio Garrido: Yeah. You always ask this question at the beginning of the podcast, and everybody says, "Well, everybody." I don't want to say everybody, so I'm going to say just human beings. The problem that we all have, as managers, and as sales professionals, is we're good at answering questions, and we're really bad at asking questions. Hopefully, during today's conversation and reading the book, you'll understand why answering questions is a bad thing, asking questions is a good thing. Everybody that wants to take their career, their success levels to the next level, I promise you, the answer is in asking smarter questions, and hopefully by the end of today, you will agree with me. Let's see, shall we?

Mike Montague: Yeah. I think it's pretty obvious that all of us went through around 12 years of school, of learning how to answer questions, but nobody took any classes or had any practice on asking the questions. Am I right?

Antonio Garrido: Yeah. There are about five or six key things that are working against us when asking better questions. One of them is that socialization, the experience that we all had with growing up, but that's only one of the things. There are other things that also stand against us, but that is one of them. That's a critical key thing that maybe we'll talk about a bit little later, but there are four or five other big things that are getting in our way, where we're standing on our foot, and questions solve all of those things.

Mike Montague: Let's talk about some of those, and the attitude portion here is what is the bad attitude holding people back? What's the ideal attitude we should be shooting for?

Antonio Garrido: Okay. Let's go to think about all of the positive attitudes that we should be shooting for, because there's so much holding us back, and if you want to know all about that, obviously, read the book. There's a bunch of attitudes. There are maybe six or seven key attitudes I'd like our listeners to bear in mind. If they could write these down, these are great. Not in any particular order.

Be a consultant, be a trusted advisor. Believe that you have equal business stature because one of the things holding us back from asking good questions is we feel that as the sales professional talking to a buyer, or talking to a prospect, or talking to a client, we're in a subservient position to them. In other words, they're at a more senior level than us, and we're subservient to them, therefore, we have to answer their questions because that comes back to that socialization stuff that we talked about earlier, about when we were young we learned that people in authority, parents, police, teachers, whoever was in authority, they had the right to ask questions and it was our job to answer them.

The first thing, I think, is the right attitude is, "I am a consultant." If you think about a consultant, I hope you never had to go to a specialist or a doctor, whatever. When you go and see them, their job is to get a full history. They've got to figure out what's going on before they prescribe anything. How do they do that? They do that by asking a ton of questions. They don't do that by showing off. They don't do that by saying, "Hey, look, I got my degree from Columbia." They don't point to that and tell lots of things; they ask lots of things. They do lots of history; they do lots of backgrounds, they'll do some exams, some tests and all that kind of stuff before they prescribe anything.

The right attitude to have is, "I am a consultant, I am a trusted advisor, I have equal business stature and the way I'm going to figure out what the best solution for these people is ... and it might not even be me, but the better I can take the full medical history the better and therefore, the only way to do that is to ask questions." I think being a consultant is a key attitude to have. Does that make sense?

Mike Montague: Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. I love your analogies of the doctor's office and stuff. It would be silly for them to walk in and say, "Here are all the great prescriptions we have, which one do you think will solve your problem?"

Antonio Garrido: Yeah, exactly.

Mike Montague: It might be fun to pick a couple of times, but I don't think you would cure your problems very often.

Antonio Garrido: No, right, right, right. The other attitude to have, which is a spin-off of that, but it's still critically important, is that you need to accept or understand ... and, again, all of this is explained in the book, and it unfolds as you get through it, but you have to understand that you will be raised in status, in the eyes of your prospect by asking them questions, and not answering questions. The attitude to have is if I ... and we all want to be thought of by our prospects, by our clients, by our customers as having value, as having high value. As soon as we understand, as soon as we accept that by asking good questions we are raised in status, then that helps you deal with some of your attitude issues.

Mike Montague: I love those. Obviously, like we have mentioned a couple of times, you can check out Antonio's new book Asking Questions the Sandler Way, but how does that translate over to behavior? How do we actually ask questions, or what are we supposed to be doing here?

Antonio Garrido: There are a few things, a bunch of stuff, but a few key ones to me, I think, are make sure you get real good at doing some pre-call planning and post-call review. In other words, have a plan beforehand. What are the smart questions that you're going to be asking yourself? A really good behavior is some real good pre-call planning, really self-critical post-call review. Make sure that your upfront contracts are detailed.

A really nice behavior is to remind yourself to ask one more really smart question. I asked a question today of a prospect, I've never asked it before, but I tell you what, I'm going to ask it from now on. I'm sure this is the one question that turned it for me. I asked the prospect, I said, just as we were about to wrap up, I said, "What's the one smart question that I should've asked you that I didn't today?" Then the guy went, "That's a really good question." Then the conversation went on, and on, and on, and on.

Put in your cookbook. So for those that know what we're talking about, those that have cookbooks, make sure you put in your cookbook to ask a certain number of strategic and a certain number of tactical questions on every and every and every sales encounter.

Mike Montague:  Yeah, I don't know. I'm jaded because my dad bought a Sandler franchise when I was in high school, so I don't have a lot of bad experience, but out of the sales people out there, how many of them do you think actually work out questions that they want to ask before they go into a sales meeting?

Antonio Garrido: Honestly, not nearly as many as they should. I think that ... what I believe very strongly when you start to do that, you see exponential growth in your results. It also comes back ... We say all the time at Sandler, don't we? "If it's going to be a no, when do you want to know?" You want to know straight away.

Asking questions not only gets you to a positive outcome, which is the order at the end of the gig but it also, when you start pre-planning your questions in advance, to figure out whether or not they are a genuine prospect or not, it gets you to no quicker. Good questions get you to no quicker, and they get you to yes quicker. Shorten your sales cycle and stop wasting time. Do you know what I mean?

Mike Montague: Absolutely. I love that. Anything else you want to add on behavior, or should we talk about maybe some of the good questions to ask or the techniques?

Antonio Garrido: This is sounding like a shameless plug for the book, isn't it? When you get the book, there are a couple of hundred questions that we actually detail at the end of the book. What to ask here and what to ask there, and what to ask in the middle, and what to ask in the beginning, and what to ask at the end? I think that we also talk more specifically regarding the technique piece. There are about 16 reverses, so those that know Sandler well, the 49 rules, I know it's rule 12, which is answer every question with a question. We call that a reverse when you ask a question in response to a question, that's called a reverse. There's about 16 of them, and they're all in there, so learn the reverses.

Another technique is, you've got to reverse three times to get to the truth sometimes. Ask strategic and tactical questions. The 70:30 rule is really important for technique. In other words, them to be speaking 70% of the time and you 30. Well, how do you make that happen? How do you engineer it, so they're speaking more than you are? That was a question, by the way. By asking more questions, right? The technique is that 70-30 rule. Dummy up, that's a great technique. The thermometer question, great technique. There's a whole bunch around attitude and behavior and technique.

Mike Montague: Let's dive into a few of those questions. Number one, reverse, probably everybody's favorite in Sandler. Your subtitle of the book, Good question, why do you ask?

Antonio Garrido: Why do you ask? Right, okay.

Mike Montague: That's number one, to get the intents behind the question before you answer. What are some of those other easy just reverses, that you can use to probe for more information on somebody that's not giving you a whole lot?

Antonio Garrido: Before I do, just let me build on something that you said. You made a great point. We only need to ask questions when we're trying to figure out the intent behind their question. How often should we need to figure out the intent behind their question? Every question they ask us, so that's why we're doing it.

Here are a bunch of them. You just talked about a reverse, "Great question, why did you ask?" One of my favorites is the start-stop reverse. When somebody asks you a question, you start to answer it. You're going as if you're going to answer it, and then you stop yourself, and then you go, "Hold on for a sec. So of all the questions, you could've asked me right now, why that one?" That's a really nice one. As I say, there're 16 of these. There's the multiple choice, right?

Mike Montague: Can I jump in real quick and share with everybody why the start-stop is my favorite? Because I'm not really good at remembering to reverse. I always start to answer the question no matter what, then I go, "Oh, I probably shouldn't do that," and I stop and reverse. It's actually a technique, so I feel like that's a win.

Antonio Garrido: Yeah. Of the 16 my favorite is the magic wand. When somebody asks you a question ... and I always say, and I have the accent for it and you don't, I always say, "So, if you had the Harry Potter magic wand ... " there are other magic wands available, it doesn't have to be Harry Potter's, but I always go so like, "Let's pretend, let's pretend we could do that," whatever you've been asked. "So we had a magic wand that we could do that. What would that look like? Why are you asking me that?" The magic wand is a good one.

Multiple choices is a good one. When somebody asks you a question, you say, "Well, typically people ask me those kind of questions for one of three reasons. Is it because you're wondering whether or not we have the capability to do it? Is it you're wondering whether or not we have somebody over that neck of the woods? Or is it because that's your biggest concern right now? Which one of those is it?" It doesn't even have to be one of those. When you just flush out three things they often say, "Well, it's none of those, it's this ... " Then you uncover a whole bunch of stuff.

There's 16 of those, and they're all good fun, but they are techniques, and the better you get at learning them and using them, these are all just kind of tools in your tool bag. The way you can do it seamlessly and conversationally, as David Sandler did, it's going to change your life. It genuinely will.

Mike Montague: That's awesome. How do we tie all three of these things together and make sure that we get to our best at asking questions, and we stay there?

Antonio Garrido: I guess, you're not going to like this, the answer is you've got to practice. You've got to practice, and practice and practice. We train in our training room here every week. What's the difference between an amateur and a professional? An amateur practices until he gets it right, but a professional practices until he can't get it wrong. We're constantly, constantly, constantly practicing. This is reps; it's sit-ups.

Then another thing that's critical to this, and we talk about it again quite a bit in the book is, you've got to get your belief system right, and journaling helps that too. Practice like crazy, with intent, and journal. Get your attitude right, get your belief system right, and then all of the other stuff will follow from that.

Mike Montague: If you need to learn more about journaling, there's a really awesome podcast on that earlier, from that ...

Antonio Garrido: There's a tremendous one by some British chap called Antonio Garrido, I think.

Mike Montague: You can search for Antonio in the How to Succeed podcast, or search for journaling. We had a lot of fun with that last year, but we're talking about your new book Asking Questions the Sandler Way. It is out and available now at shop.sandler.com, but for people who don't know you, let's get to know you a little bit better. What is your biggest challenge right now?

Antonio Garrido: In the business right now?

Mike Montague: Business, life, whatever. What are you working on?

Antonio Garrido: Oh gosh. We're really clear about setting our goals, about what does success looks like and all that kind of stuff. Right now on a business sense, our challenge right now is scale. We started off well. We've had some really, really good successful years, and so we're trying to scale our business up and, so it's all about scale. On a personal level, we got a puppy two days ago, and we're trying to figure that out. I want to figure out more time to paint, so those are my kind of three challenges right now.

Mike Montague: That's awesome, potty-training, painting, and scale, all right.

Antonio Garrido: Yes, right.

Mike Montague: What is your favorite success hack, tool or technology?

Antonio Garrido: My favorite hack or tech tool right now is Wunderlist. We all have to do lists, and we all say, "Yeah, yeah, we can write stuff down." Check out Wunderlist; it's phenomenal. It's a great way of keeping you on track, and you can put your cookbook on Wunderlist. It's a great tool; it goes on your phone, it goes on your laptop. Wunderlist, just to keep you organized. If you're as disorganized as I am, Wunderlist keeps you being on track.

Mike Montague: Yeah, I like that. I've been using it to do that myself, lately. If you could hire anyone as your coach, who would it be? Or I'll give you a ...

Antonio Garrido: That's a great question, I think. I almost want to say, "Why do you ask?" But I won't. A guy I used to work for, years ago, who I wish I could take him around with me, all the time with me. Obviously, I don't work for him anymore, but he was phenomenal at asking questions. He actually was the guy that originally taught me how to ask better questions. I'd bring Adam with me, or maybe, if not then, maybe my kids, because all of my kids find an uncanny way of making me explain myself. "Why are you doing it like that? Why not like this?" My kids are really good at getting me to make sure that there's a reason why I'm doing stuff.

Mike Montague: Yeah, I like that answer too, I think your family, spouse or kids, keep you honest and humble. Also, they are great to practice on. You mentioned practicing questions earlier, and it's great to do that without the threat of a million dollar sale on the line. It's just, "What do you want to go to do for dinner?" You can say, "Good question. Why do you ask?"

Antonio Garrido: Yeah. Why do you ask? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Then you do it long enough, and they say, "Don't do that Sandler stuff on me."

Mike Montague: Then you'll learn that you need more reverses in your bag.

Antonio Garrido: Then you know you're getting it when they can see it. Right, yeah, yeah.

Mike Montague: All right. Last one for you. What's your favorite Sandler rule? Or since we asked you that last time, what's your favorite one for asking questions?

Antonio Garrido: It must be. We mentioned answer every question with a question, but, I think it's important to wrap up on what I think is the single most important question for a sales guy to ask, would that be okay for a sales professional to ask. The book talks about thousands ... hundreds and hundreds of different questions and here's the most important one, would that be useful, do you think?

Mike Montague: Sure.

Antonio Garrido: I think the most important question of all the questions that you have to ask, and you have to ask it early on, right? You get permission to ask lots of questions. It's the single most important question. When you meet new prospects, or a client, way up front, early on in the game, you have to say something like, "Will it be okay if I ask you a whole bunch of questions? Some of them are going to be tricky, but I'm doing it to try to and see the world through your eyes to get the issues from your perspectives. Will that be okay?" Get permission to ask questions, and once you've done that, then you've got to do it. Does that make sense?

Mike Montague: Yeah, I like that. Based on asking questions ... let's wrap everything up for everybody, what is one attitude you would like people to have?

Antonio Garrido: I'm a consultant.

Mike Montague: Behavior you would like them to do?

Antonio Garrido: Make yourself ask one more smart question.

Mike Montague: And the best technique to use?

Antonio Garrido: Dummy-up.

Mike Montague: All right, anything else you want to add or make a plea, beg people to buy your book, whatever you want? You've answered all of my questions, so the floor is yours, my friend.

Antonio Garrido: I guess I'm going to ask the listener this, can they genuinely think of a reason why they shouldn't want to buy the book, and get better in [inaudible 00:18:06]?

Mike Montague: I like it. Well, Antonio, thanks for being on the show.

Antonio Garrido: Thanks, Mike.

Mike Montague: Check out his book at shop.sandler.com. It's Asking Questions the Sandler Way, or Good question, why do you ask? You can pick it up; it's on sale now at sandler.com or Amazon. Thank you for listening and remember, whatever you are, be a good one. The How to Succeed Podcast is brought to you by Sandler Training, the worldwide leader in sales, management and customer service training with over 250 locations. For more information on Sandler Training, visit sandler.com.

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