Strategies for 7 tough questions
After interviewing thousands of customers, Steve W Martin highlights 7 strategies for answering customer questions successfully. These are often the difference between winning and losing a deal.
- Clarify the question first
Customers ask two basic types of questions. Some are very specific questions about a feature or issue, while others are more general about a broad topic or your opinion. In both instances, make sure you understand the question before answering it.
- Show your domain expertise
If you intimately know your industry, company, and products and how they compare against the competition, you need not fear even the toughest question. 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.”
- Make sure everyone understands
Since most sales calls 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 your company’s buzzwords.
- Provide an expert point of view
Never forget, your customer would rather do business with a trusted consultant who has intimate 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 advisor by intently listening to the questions the customer asks so that you can apply your expertise to solve the customer’s business problems or initiatives.
- Redirect inane 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 … “
- Respond with Metaphors
Metaphors are stories, parables, and analogies that communicate ideas by using examples that people can relate to and identify with. Metaphors enable complex concepts and theories to be explained in an understandable, interesting, and persuasive manner. The most important metaphors are examples about the customers that are successfully using your products and services.
- Demeanor speaks volumes
The most powerful response to the most difficult question isn’t solely the answer you give. It’s also how you say it! Regardless of the question, keep a calm and confident demeanor. Most of all, do not get defensive. Stay positive. This is a critical lesson. When confronted by someone who disagrees with your opinion, it’s okay to disagree without being disagreeable.
A critical aspect of every sales call is not necessarily what you have planned to say. Rather, it is how you handle the tough questions the customer asks you. Your question-handling ability is what separates you from the pack.
Do you win deals by answering your clients correctly?
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