Mastering Questions: The Most Important Part of Sales
What part of your sales pitch is arguably the most important? Mastering the questions your prospects will ask during your presentation and during your Q&A at the end. But questions are the one aspect of your pitch that you don’t have control over and that can be horrifying to salespeople. Michael King, writing for Ragan, offers these tips to aid you in preparing for and helping smooth the process of answering prospect questions.
In your past sales pitches, what have your prospects asked you about your product or service? Those are likely at least similar to questions that your future prospects will ask. So, to excel at mastering questions, you should prepare for those questions, especially if they’ve tripped you up in the past. You can also talk with your coworkers about their past presentations for the same product or service and ask what questions they’ve been asked or what advice they have to help you prepare. You could even try to incorporate the answers to some questions into your presentation to show you’ve done your research.
Encourage Reactions in General
Your prospects may not be able to think of questions at times, but they could still have something to say. At the beginning of your presentation, encourage your prospects to openly give comments or feedback, as they can still give you an opportunity to address the prospect’s concerns and/or educate them on your product or service. For example, a comment such as, “Well, my current supplier does things this way…” is an excellent opportunity for you to showcase how you and your company handle the same or similar procedures. Without openly insulting your competition, you can explain to your client how your methods are more efficient, money-saving, better involve your clients, etc.
Give Positive Reinforcement
You want your prospects to get clarity on any questions they may have, so you need to make sure they know that questions are welcomed and encouraged. King says to, “Say you appreciate the question with something like, ‘That’s an excellent question,’ or, ‘That’s a good topic. Thank you for asking.’” That will reinforce the prospect’s confidence in further discussing your product or service with you, instead of potentially thinking that their questions are annoying or unwanted.
The confidence you’ve instilled in your prospects to ask questions can easily be washed away by just your body language. If you’re looking around the room instead of at the prospect, reclining in your chair or shuffling aimlessly about the room, you’re going to come off as bored and rude. Face the prospect asking the questions and maintain eye contact with them while you answer to let them know that their questions are important to you.
Sometimes, prospects’ questions can seem obnoxiously detailed, almost as if they’re trying to trip you up. However, being asked detailed questions is a good sign. The more information that is put into a question, the more insight you’re getting into the prospect’s current situation and real concerns they’re currently having or problems they’ve had in the past. If you can solve the complex questions now, you’ll show you’re more dependable and prepared than your competition.
These are five of the 10 tips King has to offer, but Eric Holtzclaw, writing for Inc., has additional advice on this topic.
Take Your Time
If a prospect asks a question that gives you pause, take a moment to think over how you’re going to answer. Don’t start talking immediately for the sake of seeming as if you automatically know all the answers. It will show that you don’t when your words begin tripping over your own thought process. However, if it takes too long to think of the answer, don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know off the top of your head. Make sure you tell them that’ll you’ll look into their question more and get back to them with an answer in a timely manner. Taking time to pause is a good sales technique. Holtzclaw says that your prospects will, “appreciate that you took your time to consider the questions, and it won’t feel like a scripted answer.” That's a lesser known technique to mastering questions.
Make Sure You’ve Fully Answered the Question
Just because your answer makes sense to you, the experienced one and expert on your product or service, doesn’t mean it had the same effect on your prospect. They may still be confused, but you’ll never know if you just move ahead with your presentation or jump right into asking if anyone has any additional questions. Instead, when you’ve reached the end of your answer, Hotzclaw says to stop and ask, “Does that answer your question?” or “Was that clear?” When you take the time to make sure your prospects understand and are happy with your answer, you can leave confident that you gave them everything they need to make a knowledgeable decision that they’ll be comfortable with. They’ll know that too. Knowledge leads to confidence and confidence is a major selling point in sales.
Mastering answering questions is one of the best ways to become a successful salesperson. Questions get prospects involved, provide clarity that could sway the sale and help you establish yourself as the knowledgeable authority on your product or service. It also shows that you care enough about your prospects to make sure they have enough information to make educated decisions.