Have you ever noticed some businesspeople love to hear themselves talk and by the time they have finished do not remember what the original question was? Worse yet are the people who mistakenly add insult by not thinking ahead, and those who ignore your original question in order to advance their own goals.
Thinking before you respond is the best way to avoid mishaps and turning prospects bad word-of-mouth press. Further questioning will help you buy time and fully understand the nature of the other person’s question.
Prior to responding to a question, try one of these three acceptable responses to difficult questions: Please tell me why you are asking so that I may appropriately answer your question; What has been your history regarding this – it sounds as if you may have had a bad experience; and Please explain what you mean by that term so that I fully understand?
Politely ask questions to uncover further dissatisfaction and the ramifications on all areas of their business. Try to find how all of this chaos developed over time. Then address the original question accordingly. The
more information you obtain up front, the easier it will be for you to make your presentation and finalize the business.
In a Q&A period, make certain that semantics are understood and clarify when necessary. Even if you show a lack of knowledge by a particular question, it is better to do so in the first meeting than to make a major error in the proposal and waste everyone’s time.
Once you respond to the question, ask if your answer is understood and if there are further questions. It is equally important for your prospects to understand you as it is for you to understand them. Keep an open dialogue by encouraging questions throughout the process and you asking questions as they arise.
Another excellent technique is to recap the high points of the conversation before ending the appointment and reiterate the to-do list. Your prospect will greatly appreciate the fact that you were listening!
Recently, I met with a Consultant to determine if his services were better than what I am currently receiving. The Consultant spoke extensively about the growth of his business and the services his team provides. When I was finally able to ask a specific question of interest to me regarding my situation, he gave a 45 minute answer. When he was done, my response was, “That was a fascinating answer but it did not address my question.”
The Consultant’s answer did three things: He wasted 45 minutes of my precious time; he demonstrated he doesn’t listen well and is more interested in advancing his own goals; and worst of all, he lost the potential business.
As the Prospect, I found the meeting very frustrating. Here I was giving the Consultant an opportunity to earn my business yet he kept putting his own priorities first. All that needed to be done was to ask questions regarding where I was coming from, why I was considering a change and what would it take to push me over the edge to make that change. Had the question and answer period been conducted properly, he may well have earned my business.
A Sales Representative from a well known, upscale store answered another question of mine by saying, “Get your grandchildren to help you.” The answer horrified me on several levels.
My first reaction to the response was it made me feel quite old. Admittedly, the moment I got home I looked in the mirror to see what she saw. Her answer gave no thought to the person on the receiving end. Suppose another person who was not able to have children herself had been on the receiving end, the answer would have been extremely offensive, and the salesperson might have lost her job. In fact, a friend of mine asked, “Did you slap her?”
A better approach is to fully understand the basis for the question; clarify before speaking; listen carefully and precisely address the issue; ask if you answered the question satisfactorily; and very importantly, choose your words wisely!
Asking open ended questions initially followed by asking specific questions to the issues at hand will turn the appointment into a friendly conversation, and help you turn prospects into clients.
To start the conversation off on the right track, ask the question, “You are so busy what caught your interest to spend time with me today?” By honoring the other person with respect for their time, they, in turn, will be candid and interested in pursuing a relationships. You will both make excellent use of the time allotted and enjoy the free flow of information.
Additional Ideas to Build Business: learn to speak to your Prospects’ interests; practice listening; work on asking questions instead of providing monologues; delve deeper into questions to understand their root; uncover problems stemming from the questions; address questions succinctly; your center of influence will grow and your business will prosper.