If you’re in sales, you understand that answering a variety of questions and effectively responding to objections raised by customers is critical to a successful outcome. The better you prepare by thoroughly understanding your own products as well as your customer’s business challenges, the more likely it is that you’ll easily come up with a response that meets your customers’ needs. However, even with the most diligent preparation, prospects will always come up with questions you’ve never considered and that will catch you off guard. The best salespeople have a knack for thinking on their feet and maintaining their composure even when faced with unexpected situations. Let’s look at some techniques for handling such cases so you make the best possible impression even while feeling inwardly uncertain.
- Clarify any unclear questions. Prospects often ask questions that are awkwardly worded or may seem unfounded and irrelevant to what you have to offer. This may indicate that they’re unsure about their own needs and challenges. Ask them to clarify if you’re not completely clear about something. Don’t guess their meaning. You never lose anything by asking for clarification. In addition to ensuring that you and the client are on the same page, it also gives you extra time to prepare the most appropriate answer to the question.
- Relax and give yourself time to gather your confidence. You may find yourself freezing when a prospect asks you an unexpected question. This might bring up unhappy childhood memories of your mind blanking when the teacher asked you a question in the classroom you didn’t know the answer to. As an adult, you can come up with better strategies for dealing with this fairly common problem. When you’re unsure of what to say, take a deep breath and give yourself a moment to respond. Don’t start a rambling monologue just for the sake of saying something. This only makes it harder to get back on track. Remember to focus on the benefits relevant to this person rather than just listing features. If you need extra time, ask some additional questions. Remember to maintain eye contact with the prospect and speak with confidence.
- Be honest. There will be times that you don’t have an answer to a question. Whether this is because you simply don’t know the answer or you’re just not able to think of it right away, don’t bluff and say something that’s not accurate. It’s better to be honest and tell them that you don’t have the answer right this moment but that you’ll get back to them within 24 hours. Then move on to the next point. Your prospects will prefer that you give them an honest answer rather than tell them something that could be misleading.
- Stay calm and positive. Sometimes, salespeople get frustrated, even defensive when prospects ask difficult or unanticipated questions. This almost always leads to the prospect walking away unsatisfied. You always want to maintain good rapport with prospects even if it’s not always easy. It’s understandable to feel frustrated at times. It’s never helpful, however, to take this out on your prospect. Keep your composure, take notes, and answer the question as best you can. Once again, if there’s something you can’t answer on the spot promise to do more research and contact them within the timeframe you promise.
- Prepare for the unexpected. This brings us back to the original point about preparation. You can’t prepare for every conceivable question that a prospect might ask. You can, however, do your best and make sure you’re familiar with your product’s main features and how they benefit customers in different ways. As you gain experience, your repertoire of knowledge and your ability to respond will increase. You can accelerate this process by practicing role-playing exercises with colleagues, managers, and peers. The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll get responding to all kinds of questions.