Ace the Sale by Thinking on Your Feet

BY Kathy Crosett
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There’s one in every crowd. You’re finishing up your presentation. You’ve done a better job than ever before. And then, this person asks you an impossible question. They sit back, arms crossed and wait for you to squirm. Talk about awkward.

These situations require you to think on your feet. Not all of us are born with this skill. But it’s something you can develop, especially with the advice from a pro like Nick Kane, managing partner at Janek Performance Group.

Stay Cool

The first thing to remember is that silence is not a problem. Don’t rush to fill it with nervous talking. Your audience is not going to get restless if you take a moment to consider the question and gather your thoughts.

You’re probably also worried that the prospect wants to make you look bad. Maybe they’re trying to impress their boss. Or they could be attempting to sway their peers to select a different vendor. All of these possibilities could be true. These scenarios go on all the time at a prospect’s site, usually when you aren’t there to defend yourself or your product.

Focus on the Opportunity

So, look at the pop-​up question in a group setting as an opportunity. To increase the professionalism of your response, thank the prospect for asking an excellent question. Then, rephrase the prospect’s question to make sure you understand what they’re asking. Once you’re clear on what they want to know, ask a question or two of your own. In this way, you’ve turned their question into a conversation, and you’ve focused the attention on them. 

For example, they may ask if your company has specific experience converting the data in their proprietary legacy system over to your system. Maybe your competitor has told them they can manage the conversion in a week or two. That may be true. 

But the right kind of question from you can get your prospect to think harder. Ask them what kinds of issues they’ve encountered in previous system conversions. This question indicates you want to gather as much information as you can in order to avoid a botched outcome. The question also alerts them to the fact that quality control is a key detail for your company. Without badmouthing your competitor, your question will enhance your position in the prospect's eyes. 

The next time a prospect asks you an impossible question, don’t panic. Think of the question as an opportunity. And deliver an answer that shows how you and your product comprise the right solution to their problem.