the past few years, since I began using this weekly blog to share stories about
sales and sales management, I have been receiving numerous questions from
readers including my own clients. Over the next several months I am going to
use my weekly ramblings to post one reader question with my answer. Please note
– my answers are based on my personal and professional experiences and in no
way reflect my company or specific clients.
Q: When selling to an audience, is it
rude to “dodge” certain attendees questions, especially from the lower level
A: Yes, it is rude, and no you should
not “dodge” their questions. There are exceptions, but they are rare, and
largely depend on the size of the audience. Let’s be realistic, you are
probably not selling to a room of 30 people. Audiences will vary in size and
those in attendance will have different level of organizational responsibility.
However, if someone is in attendance during your sales pitch, they are most
likely there for a reason, and their question may be more valid than the CEO’s.
Generally, when I am faced with either a
larger audience or a time cap, I start the Q&A portion of the pitch off by
saying that I will try my best to answer everyone’s questions during the
meeting, but I also reserve time afterward to address some on a one-to-one
basis. This gives you the momentary out to defer a question from the group time
to a personal conversation. In fact, sometimes with lower level individuals,
they may appreciate the one-to-one conversation, and you can win them over.
But, you want to make sure you do two
things when the Q&A process takes place. One, you cannot ignore anyone
regardless of their role. You must acknowledge the person and their question,
even if by stating “great question and one that I will address right after we’re
done with the group”. And, second, you must address that person and their
question before you leave the building. I recently had this scenario play out
and the person left the room at the end of the meeting and went back to their
office. I politely asked the president of the company to show me to this individual
so I could acknowledge them and address their question. I impressed both the
president and this mid-level manager so much that I won the business and they
both became fans of my firm and the project.