Answering the unasked question

The Story: I’m reminded of a salesperson in a small VAR who was helping a small business owner buy a peer-to-peer network. After the system was decided upon and the salesperson had confirmed with the distributor that all the components were in stock, and the P.O. had been placed, the salesperson

decided to show the business owner how he could eventually link up more systems and how the system could expand and become very large.

The business owner lost all enthusiasm for the network. He had thought about what he wanted very carefully. The more he learned about this system, the more doubt crept into his mind that it wasn’t the system for him.

Did the business owner ask about how big the system could expand or how many other capabilities it had? NO! The salesperson answered a question that the business owner didn’t ask. Another person may have cared, this one didn’t.

The Result: Cancelled order. Salesperson frustration. And the lesson this salesperson may learn is that you never say “It can do more”. He may be convinced that the sale was lost because of the expansion capabilities, but the truth is that an answer was given to a question that was never asked. Expansion had NOTHING to do with the sales being lost.

Discussion: Answering unasked questions is a trait that many salespeople have taken to heart as the way to get a prospect to buy. Knowing about your product/service and wanting to tell anyone who will listen is what drives the need to answer unasked questions. Unfortunately, many salespeople wind up giving answers that cause the prospect to further question whether or not he is doing the right thing by considering your product/service. Unwittingly you are giving the prospect more information upon which to raise objections. Why give the prospect the information to raise objections? This only makes closing that much harder.

Most answers to unasked questions occur when there is a lull in the conversation. The salesperson decided to fill in the lull by explaining more; hoping that some of what is said will “connect” with the prospect. This is a form of “Let’s throw as much on the wall and see what sticks”. And if the prospect shows any signs of “connecting” to what has just been thrown on the wall, the typical salesperson’s response is to throw even faster.

Approach: Stop answering unasked questions. When the lull occurs, and it will with every prospect, ask him a question. Don’t make a statement! And once you ask the question, wait for a response. Product/service knowledge is essential to determine if the prospect is the right one to buy what you are selling. The knowledge is NOT meant to be used to bury the prospect with facts and figures hoping that some of the facts and figures will convince him to buy.

Giving the prospect more information can lead to losing a sale. This only convinces the salesperson that even more explanat

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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