You’re excited! You just hired a new sales representative that checks every box on your “perfect employee checklist.” You just know they are going to crush it in the field. Your new go-getter gets the first appointment set in the first week. Nailed It!
You tag along to watch the magic happen, but disaster strikes within the first few minutes. Your confidence fades as your new MVP fumbles the proverbial ball on a technical question that hasn’t been coached yet. He starts spitting out information to fill the silence, and you know right then that this will be a hard sale to save.
What just happened?!?
Not knowing the answer to a question can make anyone feel vulnerable and exposed, like getting caught checking the mail in your skivvies, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
The fact of the matter is, you most likely made the right decision by hiring this picture perfect salesperson, but oftentimes important soft skills, like handling a question outside the general scope of knowledge, can be left out in the training process.
So what do you do to fix it?
You show them how to build trust even in the unfamiliar because we all know that a team of smarty pants know-it-alls is the last thing you want on your hands. So let’s dive right in.
1. Build Trust With More Questions
I know it seems a bit backwards. You don’t want to risk aggravating the prospect by not giving them a direct answer. But why did they ask the question in the first place? Edward Young, a sales operations manager at Martal explains that, “Getting the meaning behind the question can be more important than the question itself.” He recommends to try phrasing the follow-up questions like this, “So having X is important to achieving Y for your business? Can you tell me a little bit more about that so I can get the right answers for you?” If you have kids, or even if you have simply had a conversation with one, you know that one question has at least five more questions trailing behind. That’s something that many of us carry on into adulthood. Because we know that additional questions are going to pop up, it’s important to be prepared and get the details you need to successfully answer the prospects’ questions in a way that will provide a tangible solution during the next conversion.
This technique helps your sales representatives determine the deep seeded pain points the potential client has been dealing with and puts them in a position to predict the prospect’s future needs.
Edward also explains that not every personality type will appreciate this approach so it’s important to have other approaches depending on the direction the conversation is going. Some people might need a bit more enthusiasm to keep things moving.
2. Get Excited About The Questions
Questions are opportunities.
Think back to the classroom when you asked a question with a bit of critical thinking behind it and the teacher responded with an encouraging, “Fantastic question, Joe!” It’s okay to admit that it gave you a sense of superiority amongst your peers. Why wouldn’t your prospects want the same? Train your sales people to applaud a prospect’s out-of-the-box thinking especially when it throws them off guarded. It’s an opportunity for that team member to not only gain more knowledge about the products and services they represent, but also a chance to win over the prospect with the way questions are addressed.
It’s the prospect’s first glimpse into the organization’s troubleshooting process. Your sales team should encourage the prospect’s curiosity, and work diligently to find the best answers to their questions.
Whether you are diving deeper into the pain or showing genuine excitement about the queries or both, timing is everything.
3. Give A Timeline and Stick To It
If you go to the doctor with some medical concerns and the physician’s response is, “I don’t know … I’ll get back to you on that.” Naturally, your next question is, “When?” I guarantee that if your salespeople are not giving a timeframe for answering unanswered questions, then those prospects are feeling anxious and unfulfilled and will likely move on to someone that makes them feel the exact opposite. Your salespeople might be concerned about setting a timeframe because they don’t know when they can get the answers. Or maybe they don’t even know who to ask, but leaving it hanging is the equivalent to ending a first date with an, “I’ll call you.” There’s that nagging feeling in the back of the prospect’s mind that your salesperson is just not that into them. If that’s the case,There are plenty of fish in the sea for that prospect to catch.
So if your sales team is hesitant, give them a guideline for setting expectations for potential clients. You know your business and you know how fast each department can communicate. If, for some reason, an answer can’t be found in that timeframe the salesperson still needs to contact the prospect to ensure they are a priority.
Again, your sales team is setting the first impression for the company. If specific dates are not kept, don’t expect another chance unless you have a great excuse and maybe some flowers and chocolates.
No one knows all the answers though I have met a few people that believed otherwise. What those people don’t understand though is that not knowing the answers to every question can be the opportunity needed to build lasting relationships as long as those unanswered questions are addressed properly. These seemingly uncomfortable situations can be used to build trust, exhibit humility, and show off your team’s problem solving ability.
Train your sales team to qualify questions with more questions, commend curiosity with compliments and dedicate to deadlines with definite dates.
At Martal, our sales team works for a variety of organizations to bring in qualified B2B leads that are ready to engage. If you are looking for more strategies and helpful tips on sales development, B2B lead generation, B2B marketing campaigns, or coordinate your marketing and sales efforts then follow our LinkedIn page to stay up-to-date with our weekly blogs. If you are looking to accelerate your sales team’s B2B lead generation process then we would love to have a discussion with you to see if we could help. Schedule a time to chat with our CEO, Vito.