When anxiety is a good thing

Ever wonder why some buyers effortlessly make decisions to move forward, while others never engage or take action? When momentum with your prospect stalls, it could be time to shake things up. We need a fresh approach to turn cautious prospects into active clients.


Consider this: Prospects expect a sales pitch. They expect us to tell them what we’re all about. Rather than tell our prospects what might happen if they don’t do anything, we need to be prepared to ask questions that allow them to imagine the negative consequences of their own inaction. In the few seconds it takes for them to consider their anxiety, it’s likely that their unique personal motivators will surface. Then we can offer our solutions to ease their anxiety and fix their problems.

Let’s dig into the best practices for telling stories that establish credibility.

Example anxiety questions:

  • “Are you confident that you can eliminate the backlog of IT requests without increasing costs?”
  • “What’s the impact to you if the cost of management initiative is delayed?”
  • “What would be the impact on your ability to raise capital if financial information is not readily available?”
  • “Are you confident that you will be able to support management’s 35% annual growth plan without impacting costs?”
  • “How safe will your job be if revenues don’t increase?” (This question practically guarantees anxiety!)
  • “I noticed that your return on assets is below the industry norm. If this situation continues, what will be the impact on your stock price?”

When asking an anxiety question, we need to integrate what we know about prospects and/or their industry. Being specific makes it more effective. We can also trigger an emotional response by making a direct connection, such as referencing war stories about people the prospect knows or leveraging relevant third-party information. The question should require prospects to imagine the future. Along the way, we must be careful to avoid insulting them or damaging the trust and rapport we’ve already established.

Asking anxiety questions is a reliable way to reignite the sales cycle. By reshaping prospects’ perspective of what they need and want, we can lead them to focus on a future in which we provide the solution. We have to begin with the end in mind. In other words, we start with the value we believe our products or services can bring. Ultimately, by cultivating a sense of urgency within our prospect, we can shorten the sales cycle, which will have a direct impact on our success.