What Vs How – Does It Make A Difference?
Using what vs how during your sales conversations, is a perfect example of how certain words and nuances could make a big difference.
In this article, we’ll explore the difference between what vs how; and how the small word difference between the two could impact your closing rate, as well as your mindset.
What Vs How – Does It Make A Difference?
The Difference Between What Vs How
Although it may look like there isn’t a big difference between using the words what vs how; there are two key mindset shifts to be learnt with the two.
The first difference is in context to your sales conversations.
We’ll unpack this in a short moment.
The second difference is the way that using the words can influence the way you think.
We’ll also explain how you can use this difference to find solutions, rather than dwell on the issues and problems at hand.
What Vs How In Your Conversations
One of the most important aspects of your sales conversations, is your deep diving questioning ability.
Questions unlock a potential client’s current situation, helps you with qualifying them, and can even lead them towards selling themselves – rather than having to do all the selling.
An important part of the sales process (which we go into more detail here), is asking questions that uncover a potential client’s pain points.
People buy for two distinct reasons.
They want to move away from tension, frustration, and pain.
They also want to move towards a positive outcome, a desired state, and beneficial outcome.
Your use of the words what vs how can make a big difference here.
When you use the word ‘what’ – it keeps the conversation very surface level.
Studies also show that when you use the word what, you can potentially make people feel defensive.
Potential clients who become defensive, shut off and won’t buy.
Further reading: Pain Points & Sales – Your Ultimate Guide
Use How Instead
Contrasted to using what – a better word to use is how.
For example; when a potential client gives you an answer, sometimes naturally you’ll ask back with “What do you mean”?
The problem with this statement, is that it can appear potentially combative.
Your potential client could feel like they’re being attached for their answer, response, opinion or rationale.
This will make them close up more, and not feel confident in opening up to you about their real feelings and thoughts.
Instead, we recommend asking “How do you mean”?
When looking at what vs how here – you could see how using the word how invites and encourages them to open up and expand more; where using the word what can make a person feel alienated for feeling a certain way.
Your role in sales, is to lead someone towards speaking the truth.
To get them to do this; you need to encourage them to open up and expand on their feelings and thoughts.
This is the first stark difference between using the words what vs how.
Further reading: Sales Probing Questions – 20 x To Use Daily
Changing Your Focus
The second difference between using the words what vs how; is the change of mindset in regard to your focus.
When you use the word what – you think about a situation.
It could be a problem or current situation; and although it’s important to recognise these, you don’t want to dwell on it too long.
When you use the word how; you move away from the what – and start looking at the solution.
How could you have gotten into your current situation?
How can you move towards a solution, and what would it look like?
The how will get you into problem solving mode, where the what will keep you focused on the situation.
Both the what vs how is important – however more important, is the word how as it gets you thinking about solutions instead of spending too much time on the situation.
What Vs How – Final Thoughts
Using what vs how in your vocabulary can make a massive difference in your sales conversations, as well as your focus with challenges and problems.
We encourage you to use more ‘how’ type questions with your potential clients, rather than risk making them defensive by using what.
Furthermore – although it’s very important to recognise problems early – it’s more important to look at solutions, and your what vs how mindset here could also make a big difference.
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