You've spent weeks trying to get a meeting with an important prospect, you've gotten past the gatekeepers and have given him or her a valid business reason (VBR) to have a meeting with you. You're halfway through the presentation that you worked on for hours over the weekend, and your prospect stops you dead in your tracks with a question you have never heard before. What do you do? Do you fake it? Do you dance around the question and minimize it?
If you are truly looking to better yourself as a salesperson and to make a solid and lasting client relationship, you don’t do any of those things mentioned above. You stop and turn to your prospect and say, “That’s a great question and one I have never heard before. I don’t know, let me get back to you."
It might not work on a test in college or in politics, but admitting you don’t know the answer to a question in business can work to your advantage in 3 ways. The first way is that it gives you the opportunity to follow up with your prospect after the meeting with information the person is interested in receiving. Secondly, it gives you a chance to display your expertise in a well-thought-out manner. And lastly, it helps you build credibility and trust (especially if you follow up in a timely manner). Let’s look at how each of these ways can benefit you.
If you want to increase the probability of closing a new account or landing a new customer, following up in a timely manner after a sales presentation can sometimes be what makes the difference. If during the presentation you've had to tell your prospect that you need to get back to them to answer some of their questions, it gives you the perfect opportunity and reason to follow up with an email or phone call with the information you were not able to provide during the meeting.
The answers to difficult questions that come out of sales presentations are best answered with well-thought-out reasoning and, possibly, additional collateral. Ask your colleagues and sales manager if they've had this specific question raised before and how they dealt with it. Advice from others with experience can lead you to a wealth of information about the topic and possibly even some follow-up material. Demonstrating your expertise and timely follow-up can go a long way in solidifying your relationship and possibly landing a new client.
As smart as you consider yourself to be, you can’t know it all. And your prospects and clients don’t expect that of you. What they do expect is someone with integrity that they can trust and to give them honest answers. By not winging it during your next sales presentation and giving honest answers, even when you don’t know the correct answers, you can build rapport and do more for establishing yourself as an expert than you could if you made up an answer. If you make up an answer, your prospect will probably eventually discover you didn’t know what you are talking about, and it will only hurt your reputation and damage the relationship.
After all, in business we typically end up spending our money with people we like and trust. If you can answer questions in an honest and trustworthy manner you are well on your way to becoming trusted and well liked.