Ask Powerful Questions to Increase Sales to Churches

Audiovisual (AV) vendors often see themselves as the expert and church buyers as wanting their expertise. This leads to the slippery slope of blurred differentiators, which reduces the vendor’s position as a solution provider down to a commodity sales provider amidst the mass of competing vendors. Instead, AV vendors who will be most successful in the House of Worship market are those who ask powerful questions and make the church buyer the expert and flip the conversation away from technical expertise and close more sales by addressing the root cause issues and opportunities in church venues.

As a person who has been on staff at churches, in the trenches of AV sales, in the shoes of a consultant, and now in the role of a marketing leader, I have experienced the remarkable success of powerful questions in each of those roles.

Empathy Beats Expertise Every Time

Everyone wants to be heard. Your job as the vendor for churches is to make sure that the person being heard and prioritized is the church buyer, not your marketing landing pages or your salespeople. That’s right: What you’re saying passively in ads, website pages, social media posts and downloadable PDF product printouts are speaking to the church users and buyers. Even this verbiage needs to ask powerful questions!

When AV vendors lead out of their technical expertise, they’ll often ask questions which make the vendor look smart, but also make the church buyer feel inadequate. The thinking here is that by demonstrating domain expertise in technology, the client will feel confident in the vendor’s expertise and trust the purchasing process. In reality, when the church buyer is recognized as the expert in their domain — church work, church services and church events — the vendor can change the entire pre-sales process to help the potential church client consider why it is they really need your help.

How to Use Powerful Questions to Increase Sales to Churches

I’ve included a helpful list of half a dozen powerful questions for you to ask as an AV vendor serving the House of Worship market. These are indeed powerful questions, but they only represent the tip of the iceberg and open up your entire marketing and sales process for review when selling in this market.

Questions that evoke strong emotions and recall impactful memories aid the prospect in identifying the problem or opportunity they’re trying to solve rather than pitting them against the salesperson looking to maximize the dollars spent.

The best questions are open-ended and invite introspection and candor. Questions that evoke strong emotions and recall impactful memories aid the prospect in identifying the problem or opportunity they’re trying to solve rather than pitting them against the salesperson looking to maximize the dollars spent. These powerful questions are game-changers not only for the vendor but, more importantly, these questions help the church buyer reframe the conversation focus away from the pain point in and of itself and re-orient their thinking to focus on the underlying issue.

If the same technical AV issue came up tomorrow, what would you do? The acute pain point may be so powerful that they would do almost anything to avoid it happening again. This is a key performance indicator of what they value and how you can help them address (and solve) it.
What do you think your team needs to do first in order for us to get started? Often the church will not consider any training, remediation, or processes because they’re reeling from a pain point. Helping them see there are some steps that could help, such as creating a signal flow diagram, in order demonstrates empathy with expertise while not making the church buyer the failure and you the rescuer.
What have you tried so far that hasn’t worked? This powerful question is both a good discovery starting point and a helpful introspection tool to frame the conversation around solving the problem and not merely the symptom.
How could you define success for your future church AV technology initiatives? One of the most powerful questions invites them to consider their preferred future. Their version of this may look far different from your approach, so be sure to listen well to their response and align your solution to their desired future state.
What is the opportunity cost for your church if this issue isn’t resolved soon? This question covertly addresses how much value they place on a solution. This value then helps inform the budget rather than having the client set a budget that may not be able to solve their problem.

Notice how these questions both make the church buyer feel heard and valued. Plus, these questions are designed to help frame the conversation around what the church values rather than around a product sale. Powerful questions do not have ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers. Instead, these questions help the church prospect consider their pain point or opportunity from the most important viewpoint: the congregants.

Transform Your Church Market Positioning

Review your current house of worship market advertisements, product landing pages on your website, your inbound sales lists, and even your project assessment documents to see where you can replace expertise positioning statements with powerful questions. Chances are, you are like the vast majority of other vendors and simply tell the church what you do and what you think they need instead of inviting the church buyers to consider defining their own opportunity costs and potential options.

Your expertise will certainly be needed; you simply don’t want to lead with mere knowledge when powerful questions are far more effective at leading the client down their ideal solution path.

For a list of even more powerful questions to ask as an AV vendor, share your current house of worship market sales questions with me and I’ll help you shift away from expertise and transform your sales towards marketing and selling with powerful questions.

What do you think? Do you agree with Anthony Coppedge’s thoughts for the future of the audiovisual industry?