Handling Questions & Interruptions

In recent blogs, we’ve discussed two topics—agendas and summaries—both covered in great detail as interactive courses in Viddler Sales Gym. To coincide with this week’s launch of Sales Gym, I’d like to conclude with the third topic in the series: responding effectively to questions and other interruptions during sales conversations.

First of all, if you’re not expecting tough questions during a sales call, then you’ve chosen the wrong profession. By definition, you’re asking someone to give up their hard-earned money. Any prospect who’s still in business will want to know why. They’ll be skeptical of just about everything you say, and will prefer paying as little as possible.

So, an important rule of thumb is that there are no unreasonable questions. Every time a prospect interrupts you, he or she is sending you a signal. These signals include literal requests for information, of course, but often they convey more. Persistent questions on too-high pricing send signals like “I’m not seeing what’s valuable here.” or “I don’t trust you.” or “You don’t really understand my needs.” (They could also be signalling, “I just don’t want to do business with you.” which will save you time in the long run.)

Whatever the signal, a question or interruption gives you valuable information. How you respond determines two important things. First, it keeps the conversation under control and on-topic. Second, and most important, it keeps the exchange natural and fluid—a conversation, not a lecture.

There are many ways to incorrectly respond to questions and interruptions. Stumbling through a memorized, rote answer is the worst. Your prospect will likely take over the conversation, and move it in unfruitful directions. Taking a hard line is also bad. You may retain control, but the prospect likely will resent the intrusion.

The very best way to handle interruptions—as covered expertly in the Viddler Sales Gym—is to treat each question as a natural part of the conversation, and as a smooth bridge to a better connection. Here’s the short form version:

HANDLING QUESTIONS & INTERRUPTIONS

How we react and respond to questions will not only build trust. It will also project competence and credibility.

But simply understanding this concept—even memorizing it—will not make it an integral part of your sales encounters. It will become an ingrained habit only with regular practice and feedback. It’s like the training required of any athlete:

So, go hit the gym, and practice, practice, practice.