As you’ll be fully aware in any sales presentation failure to answer a question with confidence will have negative results. Imagine that you have a last minute appointment with a new client. You do your research on them. You review your presentation. But do you always talk to your marketing colleague about the latest product information? Do you test yourself with the tricky questions this new client might ask? To avoid being caught out it’s important to keep up.
As they say knowledge is power. We also need to anticipate what may be thrown at us and use our knowledge flexibly.
Yes! I hear you cry, but when it’s all last minute that’s not always so easy. So how do you come across as the confident, knowledgeable sales person you are – even when it’s a last minute meeting without enough time to prepare?
1. Always anticipate – know your audience.
On your laptop folder you need answers to the questions you’ve anticipated the new client might ask.
I’m reminded of a cautionary tale. I met an inventor-entrepreneur who went on Dragon’s Den. He knew his gadgets, he knew how they assisted people and he had a plausible feel for market potential. But when a dragon asked about his current cash-flow, he didn’t know. As Dragon’s Den is mostly about entertainment they made a show of humiliating him to entertain the TV audience. But the truth is that he was badly caught out.
The great fear in sales is the awkward client question. You need to get into your new client’s head. Even with a last minute call it’s worth getting a colleague or even a family member to fire questions at you. You’ll build flexibility into your thinking and be prepared for the worst…and the best.
2. Present with backup
For your presentation set your slides so you can see your current point and what’s coming next. Having the prompt helps your confidence. But also on your laptop have a folder with the vital product details for ready-reference.
By doing this preparation you may find you don’t need to refer to the folder but knowing you have the back-up is very reassuring!
3. What about the 1% when you don’t know?
There are those few occasions when you really just don’t know the answer.
What do you do then?
When I changed career from banking into training I learned the back-up lesson. During a workshop a serious nit-picker fixated on a graph for detailed questioning. I wriggled on the hook trying to divert him. I didn’t know the answers and he wouldn’t let it go. Since it was a two-day event I could answer him the next day. I learned a lesson that has stood me well in negotiations ever since: If you really don’t know, say so, and follow up speedily.
Knowledge is power. If you want to win a client – never wing it. Have your reassuring back-up, anticipate and practice your answers, and accept that very occasionally you won’t know – so admit it and follow up promptly.
By Paul Carroll is a member of Toastmasters International, a nonprofit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organisation’s membership exceeds 313,000 in more than 14,650 clubs in 126 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience. There are nearly 300 clubs in the UK and Ireland with over 7000 members. Find your local club.