Think about the last important deal you won or lost. When did you lose control of the deal? When did your credibility wane?
When I sit in on the conversations (or have them recounted to me), I observe one recurring issue: The salesperson isn’t prepared for the kinds of questions clients ask.
I suspect that customers may even be trying to trip you up. Could they be that clever? I wonder…
The key to not getting flummoxed in these conversations is preparation. Role play challenging questions and follow-ups. Practice smooth answers followed by confident silence. Don’t over-answer.
To better understand what I mean, here are five categories of questions you need to prepare for.
Who’s Better Than You?
My favorite trick question. The wrong answer is “no one.” There is always someone better than you. Be ready to name names. Respond with a qualification: “If you were putting on a Super Bowl Half-time show, [name a big company] is certainly more qualified than we are to do that.”
This is a setup to restate your Unique Value Proposition: “But if you are looking for someone to [your value proposition], then there is no one better at that.”
Pro-tip: Don’t claim to be better than someone else. Profess to be good at what you do.
Who Have You Done This For?
The buyer has pored over your website and doesn’t see a client or project that looks exactly like themselves. They may even cite specific clients of yours that make you unqualified in their mind to service their account. “We feel you may not have the experience to work with someone like us.”
“We do not have the experience of working with someone exactly like you, but we have experience that you need.” This is your opportunity to invite the buyer to meet more of your team and perhaps even have a project strategy session to see how well your team works.
We Don’t Think You Are A Good Fit
I know this is a statement, but learn to spot the question behind it. Are they asking for a different type of experience in the discovery process?
Start by agreeing (as we do with most objections).
“At this point I would have to agree, but [Name your boss, the CEO, owner] has asked if he could meet with you [and the buyer’s boss]. She sees something of strategic importance to both parties.”
Pro-tip: You are only a peer if the buyer thinks you are. Escalate to a higher power whenever the situation calls for it.
We Are Not Ready to Make a Change
This is a single-level objection, but one you need a well-thought-out response to. The initial reply is, “Of course you’re not.”
Your opportunity is to prolong the discussion by qualifying yourself for ongoing conversations. “I would never expect you to make a change based on what little we know about each other. When you do need someone, I want to shorten your search.”
Your job now is to move the mutual discovery process along and set the next meeting. It may take place after the project in question, but you need to demonstrate that you are committed to developing the relationship with only a small commitment.
We Still Need the Best Price
“If I felt this were true, I wouldn’t be sitting here.” Then, go on to show them how buyers can better leverage their spending when working with forward-thinking companies like yours.
Pro-tip: If it is true, get up and walk out.
The lesson here is not to look for these five exchanges, but to think about the types of questions that trip you up. Then, formulate, memorize, and practice responding to moments that would otherwise derail you.