Questions create interesting experiences for people, and don’t forget, buyers are people. One is the beliefs that all questions have an answer, and indeed, that all questions deserve or demand an answer. The fact is that none of the above is always true, and once you accept that and feel comfortable with that fact, you will improve your selling.
Part of the reality is that we have been conditioned from an early age to provide answers whenever a questions is posed. From the time we are toddlers, to school, to early jobs; they asked, we answered. Many just continue this process right in to their sales career. They sit with a buyer, they are asked, they feel compelled to answer; even when they don’t have or know the answer, they feel less comfortable not giving and answer than giving one that is either incomplete or incorrect; and that’s when their problems begin.
Sales people seem to have heightened need to answer, or more accurately, provide a response, any response. However, when you step back, not having an answer on the tip of your tongue, is not the worst prospect for a sales rep. It is an opportunity for them to explore issues further. You can be in a position to ask specifically what they mean, what are they trying to understand, and more. Most importantly, understand what in their experience got them to ask that question. Chances are if you have not heard it before, it may provide an opportunity to move things forward with this prospect and to incorporate it in sales moving forward. Despite, what they say, (who ever They are), it is OK to answer a question with a question, especially if it resolves the buyer’s curiosity.
Not having the answer is also an opportunity to introduce other resources from your company, and it is always a good thing to highlight your companies “deep bench”. Some time ago I read that purchasers prefer to deal with sales people who are able to marshal the full resources of their company. If you are driven by ego, and as a result play “Johnny on the Spot” when asked a question, you miss the opportunity to demonstrate the very thing purchasers are looking for.
In the end, you will have to deal with the issue, and answer the in some form, but you can take your time, tell them you have to go off and explore specifics to accurately answer the question. Buyers have greater respect for a rep that will them they need to look into it and get back, than one with all the answers, including the wrong one.
My experience is that more sales are lost by answering too fast, than by answering very slowly.
- Embrace the unknown
- Think of asking for a chance to comeback with the answer as a long pause
- You don’t need to go at it alone – share your resources
What’s in Your Pipeline?