In yesterday’s post, we learned how to effectively work with one kind of “Controlling Prospect.” This person’s way of controlling you and the presentation is to ask questions in rapid-fire succession, quick and unrelenting, firing off another one as soon as you answer the current one. This is intended to keep you, the salesperson, off-balanced and defensive.
Now knowing how to handle that situation, let’s look at how to work with another type of controlling prospect. This person not only demands that you quickly answer their questions; they don’t want you to ask your own questions, and become angry when you do.
Allow me to reconstruct a presentation I was making to an extremely controlling dentist and his wife back in my in-home selling days. He would ask me questions and, instead of my answering quickly, as he desired, I attempted to ask him questions that would help me to analyze their needs for the product I was then selling.
Suddenly, he said, “Listen, I’m the customer – I’ll ask you the questions, and you give me straight answers, okay!?” (If you’re thinking, “Why take that abuse – why not just leave then and there?” there were two reasons. First, back then, I really needed the money and prospects such as he were a definite part of my job. Secondly, what would have been the fun in leaving?) 🙂
Me (gently): That’s fine (always agree first), but aren’t you a dentist?
Dentist (a bit bewildered at my question): Yeah, why?
Me (with a look of confusion on my face): If I’m sitting in your dentist’s chair as a patient with an excruciatingly painful tooth-ache, you’re going to ask me questions such as, “which tooth hurts?” and “how long have you been feeling discomfort?” and other pertinent questions, right?
Doc: Yeah, so what?
Me (tactfully): Now, what if I said to you “I’m the patient, I’ll ask the questions – you just fix the tooth.” Wouldn’t that make it sort of difficult for you to help me?
As I said that to him, he and his wife began to chuckle, we all smiled and he replied, “Yes, I see what you mean.”
Briefly, if/when this ever happens to you (and, really, it probably won’t very often), relax, don’t be intimidated, and in a very diplomatic fashion, have a question in mind that will gently but immediately move your prospect to understanding why it’s in their best interest for you to ask questions.