A Question is Your Best Answer
Whether selling or negotiating, sales people often feel ‘on-the-spot’ to quickly answer an objection, a question or a negotiating-demand. It’s easy to feel pressure to give a response immediately and to feel pressure to offer the answer you think the client wants. But rather than answer, it is almost always best to ask at least one question first, maybe more.
Your questions allow you to better understand clients’ needs or concerns, qualify their importance and determine if there are likely to be more questions or objections coming. The best practice is to ask a question about the question and then take that opportunity to get all the questions on the table by asking if there are others. Then ask a closing qualifier question like: ‘If I’m able to get satisfactory answers to these questions, will you give me the order (or get me a meeting with your boss or client)?’ The answer to that question will give you the road map to a closing, and it will give you the information you need in order to work internally to gather the information or answers.
Most sales people are skilled conversationalists, and are comfortable with the give and take of a selling conversation. But when the pressure is on, as a sale gets closer, or in out-right negotiations, it’s easy to forget to stay relaxed and conversational. Answering a casual question or a negotiating demand with a question has several advantages. First, it buys time and takes the pressure off you while you think about the best answer. Second, it teaches you more about your client’s concerns, direction or seriousness. And third, a qualifying question helps you manage the interaction to a conclusion.