By Carol Rosdobutko
Clients share with me daily the questions they’ve avoided asking for fear of upsetting the prospect. Sometimes they get frustrated with themselves because they feel they lost a sale or an opportunity of a sale because they lacked the guts to ask questions. They would rather bite their tongue than ask a question that they think might make the prospect uncomfortable.
The other day someone shared with me that they left an office hoping for the call to place an order. They weren’t sure they were going to get the sale, however, the prospect did give them enough positive signs they were sure the sale was forthcoming. They knew there were additional questions that they should have asked but they didn’t want to take a chance and possibly hurt the prospect’s feelings. By not asking the questions they’re hoping the prospect will somehow come to a conclusion that what they have to offer is best and they’ll place the order. What they don’t realize is that by not asking the questions, neither prospect nor salesperson is really sure of the fit.
Have you ever wondered what prevents you from asking questions? The answer I hear most is fear; fear of the unknown, fear of the prospect’s reaction and fear that they could jeopardize the sale. Let’s explore some of the worst things that could happen by asking the question or not asking the question.
What is the worst thing that could happen if you asked the question?
- If you’re on the phone, they could choose to hang up.
- They could choose not to answer.
- Yes they could get upset, frustrated or angry however it has nothing to do with the question.
- You might get a pleasant surprise when they answer and tell you that no other salesperson has ever asked ‘that question’ and you get the sale.
What is the worst thing that could happen if you don’t ask the question?
- You’ll never know the answer.
- You may not get the sale.
- You may not get invited back for a second meeting.
- You’ll spend time waiting for a response even though your gut tells you the sale has gone somewhere else.
You aren’t the only one who is afraid of hurting a prospect’s feelings. The challenge is to figure out why we think we’re responsible for some other person’s feelings. The truth is we aren’t, and the sooner we realize that the better off we’ll be and then, watch your sales increase.
Here are a few tips to help overcome your stigma that asking questions may hurt the prospect’s feelings.
- Practice asking questions with a colleague, your manager, your Sandler Trainer, your significant other or a friend.
- Let the prospect know that you have a question to ask them that might make them uncomfortable. Ask for their permission to ask it. Then go ahead and ask.
- If you feel it, say it gently.
- Relax and take a deep breath before asking the question.
- Remember, you are not responsible for how someone reacts to a question you ask.
It’s interesting how we let the concept that we may hurt the prospect’s feelings impact how we conduct ourselves in a sales call. Remember – asking a question will not hurt the prospect’s feelings. Only the prospect can choose to be upset by the question that you asked. If you feel it, say it, gently and you’ll be surprised at the result.
Carol is a Sandler Trainer in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Illustration by Rob Green