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3 Ways to Handle a “Don’t Know” Situation in a Sales Meeting

Vinaya Bansal
June 28, 2016

Have you sometimes been in a situation where a client has posed a question about your own product or service and you didn’t have an answer?

Well it gets tricky for most of the sales professionals to be in such a situation but these are inevitable. More often than not, people try to fabricate an answer to save the face and client order! But there are other better ways to handle this situation which I have successfully used over the years. 3 ways to deal with client when you face an uneasy question are:

1. Brilliant Question!: Acknowledge to client that he has asked a brilliant question! As no one has asked such an insightful question for a long time and so you don’t have a ready answer! Note the question down on a note pad and confirm when you will get back with answer.

Doing this will have a more positive impact at times than even if you would have answered the query. The client is left feeling intelligent and happy!

2. Showcase Other Experts: Another way to deal with a difficult question is to convey to the client that if he permits you would like to get an expert on line to provide an elaborate answer. But for this, make sure you have an expert and he knows you are going to call him so that he is available.

I loved to do this sometimes as it provided an opportunity to make the prospect talk with others in my organization and hence widen the engagement. This gave two distinct advantages:

a) Increase the comfort level of client by connecting them with people within the organization having similar social styles.

b) Show that we have subject matter experts and they are very approachable to clients.

3. Note down and Follow-up: Acknowledge that you don’t have a ready answer and note down the query. Do repeat the question as you have understood and noted down. Clearly communicate to prospect how and when you are going to revert back with an answer.

The advantage of this method is:

a) It provides a clear opportunity to connect back to client either in person or through other channels as mutually decided.

b) Promptness of your revert and quality of information provided will tell a lot to the client about your commitment and service quality.

What I have found over the years doing consultative selling is that clients understand that humanly it is not possible to have all the answers for a person. Acknowledging that one does not know an answer clearly communicates two things to client:

i) That the sales guy respects client’s intellect and time.

ii) Builds credibility for everything else one has communicated to client.

But this does not mean by any stretch of imagination that it is advantageous not to know one’s product to make a sell. On the contrary, these approaches can only be applied if you are otherwise thorough with your product knowledge. And after any such incident one needs to make sure that he knows the right answer before approaching the next prospect.

As I always say – selling is not a viva exam – answering all the questions can fetch you maximum marks but may not get you an order. It is the trust that helps us make long term relationship with client, which in turn helps close deals. For building this trust sometimes not knowing can be blessing in disguise if approached with the right mind-set!

Try this out when next time you find yourself stuck in a similar situation!

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