Sales is a game, and similar to any game
of sport, once you realize how to play the better you’ll become. And, practice
is just as important in sales as in football or lacrosse. But, no matter how
much you practice, you can never be fully prepared for the unexpected. In
football, for example, you may fumble the ball on the five-yard line and turn
it over to the other team. In lacrosse you may step over the midfield line and
be called for an offsides just as your team was gaining momentum. In sales, you
may get the unexpected question from the audience, which could throw the
balance of the sales pitch in the favor of the prospect.
What I call questions from the audience
are oftentimes the ones you least expect, ones that may not make much sense to
the topic at hand, but could change the dynamics of your presentation or pitch.
It may simply be a question you weren’t expecting or even a question you don’t
necessarily find timed right.
The key to answering questions from the
audience is composure. An ‘A’ level sales rep knows what I mean by composure.
More times than not a question from the audience may simply be thrown your way
to shake you a bit during the sales process. The prospect, like a member of an
audience when you’re giving a speech, may try to rattle your cage to throw you
off your game. Composure is treating the questions from the audience as par for
the course, even if you are not entirely comfortable answering the questions
For example, I was recently in the final
pitch to a new client, when out of nowhere the chairman of the company joined
the meeting. He had no idea what portion of the potential project we were
discussing, nor did he care. He abruptly walked in which seemed to surprise his
own team and asked me one question: what makes you any different than anyone else
we’ve worked with in the past? I believe I handled the situation rather well
and simply paused before briefly explaining who my firm is, why we’re
different, our expertise, and most importantly our guarantee. That sealed the
deal. Right in front of my eyes he grabbed the contract from his vice president
of marketing and signed it.
This gentleman had already done his
homework on me and my firm. He had previewed the proposal before my arrival. He
had already decided to sign the contract before walking into our meeting. But,
he wanted to rattle my cage and see if I could answer the most basic yet
important question from the audience in order to seal the deal.
Back to my earlier comment, you can only
practice so much, not knowing what may happen in the course of the sales game.
I encourage you to practice composure as much as the knowledge of what you are
selling and to whom.