7 Counterintuitive Questions You Should Ask Your Rural Prospect

 In Rural Sales Training, Rural Strategy

Being counterintuitive is a hidden super power when it comes to rural sales.

Counterintuitive questions work so well because your prospect doesn’t expect them and it breaks their automatic guessing machine.

Because they haven’t been asked these types of sales questions before they are more likely to reward you for asking by opening up with much more insight and intel.

Cognitively speaking, when you ask a counterintuitive question you pique people’s curiosity.

You get their attention rather than being ignored.

This is because our brains are automatically wired to spot differences (think about when you hear a different accent from the one you’re used to or a new person joins your gym class).

Because of cognitive dissonance ie. when two contradictory ideas conflict each other, we feel discomfort so we want to instinctively solve things. This taps into the human need to auto-correct.

A great example that covers off counterintuitive methods is in a brilliant book by Jack Schafer called The Like Switch where the FBI use presumptive statements as an elicitation technique:

  • Present an assumptive statement that can be either right or wrong
  • If the presumption is right, people will confirm this statement and often provide more information
  • If the presumption is wrong, people will provide the correct answer along with a detailed explanation as to why it is correct (“no, that’s not what I’m saying, what I’m saying is…” = GOLD)

Schafer uses a common empathetic presumptive example:

Customer: “I need to buy a new car”

Car Sales Rep: “So your old car isn’t working anymore?”

Customer: “No, I need a car that is much more fuel efficient”

Car Sales Rep: “Ok, let me show you some of our most fuel efficient cars in our range.”

This autonomic elicitation technique gets you into your buyer’s brain and identify’s their primary buying motive.

Daniel Pink does a great job of explaining the power of a counterintuitive approach when trying to persuade your kids to clean their room (try it and see for yourself).

Examples of 7 great counterintuitive questions include:

  • why us?
  • why not do this later?
  • what makes you think this isn’t a bad decision?
  • why not do this internally?
  • why not use a cheaper provider?
  • why not use one of our competitors?
  • (and my personal favourite) what’s right about not doing what we’re suggesting here? 

Whilst they are super brave questions to ask, their power is in qualifing your buyer.

It’s like sales jujitsu.

It digs deep by asking them the opposite of what they’re expecting to be asked and disarms them in the process.

You also stop wasting their time and yours by qualifying them because a no now is far better than a no later.

At first asking these questions will feel uncomfortable because it’s counterintuitive : )

Try it and see for yourself.

After a while it will feel like second nature, and as they say practice makes perfect – and permanent.

The more you use them, the more confident you’ll become.

Using counterintuitive questions qualifies the best buyers because those are the ones you want.


I am on a mission to help rural business owners, managers and reps get the results and respect they deserve.

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I spend a lot of time reading and researching before I write these articles. If you got value from this article, please help me by Sharing it with your network, liking it or even dropping me a Comment (I reply to each and every comment).

And if you’re struggling with rural sales right now, grab a 30 minute rural sales coaching call slot with me here

PS. Make sure you get a copy of my ‘How To Succeed In Rural Sales’ ebook. You can download your free copy here

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