Handling Tough Questions
We all get them. Being asked tough questions is part of the sales process; and rightly so.
Our customers want to do their due diligence, to know that they are getting exactly what they need to solve their problem, to meet their needs to to address their challenge.
For the unprepared, tough questions can be the difference between gaining a client’s trust, respect and business or losing your sale. Tough questions go with the territory and as we said in our last blog; preparation and knowing your product, service and market is essential.
So, here are some great tips and points to consider that will help you to respond accordingly and appropriately.
Clarify the question first
Generally customers ask two types of questions; specific questions about a feature or issue with your product or service, or more general questions about a broad topic or your opinion of it. In both instances, make sure you understand the question before answering it. To do this you can either, rephrase the question in your own mind using your own words and repeat it to the customer out loud, or you could ask the customer to further explain what he meant before answering. This will also bide you some time to carefully consider your answer. On many occasions salespeople are too eager to give an answer to a question that wasn’t even asked.
Show your industry expertise
If you know your industry, company, products and service and how they compare against the competition, you should never worry about even the toughest question, because you will always know more than the person asking. Frame the beginning of your answers with statements that confirm your credibility like “Based upon my experience working with X, Y and Z companies” or “I’ve been asked that many times over the years.” Expertise is gold in sales!
Make sure everyone understands
Since most sales meetings are conducted with groups of people, you should give a little background information with your answers to ensure everyone understands the topic of conversation. Don’t assume everyone understands the jargon!
Provide an expert point of view
Your customer would rather do business with a trusted sales consultant who has clear knowledge of the industry than an ordinary salesperson who simply understands how the product works. In fact, you are not actually there to sell anything. Your goal is to become a trusted adviser by intently listening to the questions the customer asks so that you can apply your expertise to solve the customer’s business problems. Often what can occur once you have established yourself as an expert is that the conversation will flow into an “off-the-record” talk about the politics of the organisation, and therefore you get greater insight (and more ammunition) to be able to close the sale.
Redirect random and unfair questions
Don’t get flustered when you are asked an inappropriate question. Simply redirect the question by saying something like, “The question you really should be asking is … ” You don’t need to answer every question, particularly if it is not relevant.
Respond with metaphors
Metaphors are stories and analogies that communicate ideas by using examples that people can relate to and identify with. Always use examples to support your answers! Metaphors enable complex concepts and theories to be explained in an understandable, interesting, and persuasive manner that the customer will relate to. The most important metaphors are examples about the customers that are successfully using your products and services.
Tone speaks volumes
The most powerful response to the most difficult question is not just about the answer you give. It is also how you say it. Regardless of the question, keep a calm and confident tone. Never get defensive and stay positive. For example, when confronted by someone who disagrees with your opinion, it is okay to disagree without being disagreeable.
Remember, behind every question customers ask is an ulterior motive. They may want to validate a bias or throw you off track. That is why you should not be too eager to answer or say yes to every question you are asked. Try to quickly think about why the question was asked. Then formulate your response to demonstrate your industry and business expertise in order to command respect. Sometimes, it is best to address inappropriate questions by providing an answer that guides the customer to a different topic. Try to anticipate what questions you might get and have some answers prepared in advance to protect yourself from uncomfortable questions about your products, company, and competitors. Most importantly, maintain your composure at all times.
A critical aspect of every sales meeting is not necessarily what you have planned or want to say. Rather, it is how you handle the tough questions the customer asks you. Your question-handling ability is what will get you the sale!
About Salesmasters International
At Salesmasters International we provide bespoke training solutions for teams of 5 or more, with each program designed for your business, industry and market and delivered by an expert facilitator.
We work with you to address culture, resources, capability, knowledge and performance and we ensure that you can measure your future success.