On the Sales Fix Guild conference call on Monday, several people brought up the challenge of being uncomfortable in certain situations where the prospect requests specific information, up front. This usually manifests itself in two main ways:
1) The prospect asks for pricing information very early in the interaction.
2) The prospect asks for technical or detailed information that the sales rep does not have, either because they are new to the industry, or because the information is beyond their expertise (think engineering or software specs).
I’ll address both these scenarios, but the reason I grouped them together is because handling both of them involve the same fundamental principle.
Content isn’t key. Delivery is!
Yes, you read that right. If you are in sales, the main value you bring to the marketplace is the ability to communicate, connect, and build trust with clients, and that often doesn’t mean dumping information on them, even when they request it. That’s part of recognizing that sales is a profession, not a job. Let’s look at specific examples of this concept.
Scenario 1: “How much is it?”, asks the prospect. “Just give me a price up front”. Well, if you are selling a commodity, then that is a fair question, but likely the price is posted somewhere. Outside of selling something indexed on price (gold, oil, pork bellies), answering a price question BEFORE understanding needs and wants is unprofessional. If someone walks on to your car dealership lot and asks, “How much for a new Ford F350, 4WD, Blue, No extended Warranty, Sports Package?” then yes, for sure, give them a price because they gave you specifics. But most clients don’t do that. Most clients walk on to the lot and ask, “How much for a car?”, to which most untrained sales people respond, “How much you got?”. The correct response is to ask, “Well, what kind of car do you need?”. Budget will usually only be one of many factors. “How much for a car?” is an impossible question to answer. Help your client discover what they need.
Scenario 2: You’re an experienced sales person, but not experienced in that industry or sector. You’re worried clients will ask you a question on a specific product detail that you might not know yet. That’s OK. Firstly, when your company hired you, they hired you to connect to people and figure out their needs. They likely had plenty of people on staff who are product experts. Leverage those people. It is highly professional to respond to such a question with some version of “that’s a good question, and I want to make sure I get you the right answer. Let me check with one of my product experts and get back to you”. I’m fine if my insurance guy says that to me. Insurance is a complex subject. I want someone who knows the answer, OR who knows someone who can get me the answer.
Again, Sales is a profession of communication. You don’t have to be an expert on the product. You need to be an expert on connecting people to their pain/obstacles and help them connect to proper solutions.