Some sales tips come in a package that can be a little disconcerting. Terry Ledden from the Sandler Sales Institute is a great sales trainer with good ideas. When I saw the title of this month’s tip I was a little disconcerted … Answer every question with a question!
That conjures up pictures of the snake oil salesman for me! However … Terry’s point was right on the mark, you have to understand what your client is asking!!!
The appointment with the prospect that Tim spent two weeks getting was not going well. The prospect kept firing questions and Tim kept giving answers. The only problem was that Tim could not figure out if the answers were what the prospect wanted to hear.
“How many have you sold in the area?”
Good, thought Tim, an easy one at last, and my answer will let him know that it is a popular product. “In the past six months I’ve sold over six hundred.”
“That’s too bad,” said the prospect.
“What…,” responded a shocked Tim.
“It’s too bad because I only like to buy the exclusive stuff. You see, Tim, in my business, if my competition has what you are selling, I’m no better off than they are. In order to stay ahead of the rest, I need the latest and greatest. You’re not selling it.”
“Well…,” stumbled Tim, “I think we might be coming out with an improved version.”
“Won’t do me any good. I need a competitive advantage today. Not six months from now. I really appreciate your stopping in today. Give me a call when you get something new.”
Tim answered a perfectly reasonable question and as a result, was shown the door. There is nothing wrong with answering a prospect’s question, but first you should make an effort to discover what’s the real question.
What if Tim had responded to the question of how many had been sold in the area with, “That’s a very interesting question; why do you ask?”
There are only two possible responses. Either the prospect would have rephrased his original question and asked it again, or Tim would have been told the prospect’s feelings about wanting the latest and greatest and why having the latest and greatest was of importance.
Upon learning why the prospect wanted the latest and greatest, Tim could have used the information to explain how his product would provide that needed competitive edge.
But Tim didn’t reverse the question, assumed the prospect would like hearing how popular the product was, and was shown the door.