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.
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I love the suggestion to agree first, a great idea to disarm and create a well placed pause! Strange however, I never thought of situations like this as “Fun”, maybe I should.
What a wonderful multi-step transition straight through the problem. You’re a master at transitional phrases, Sir Robert. Thanks!
if you truly listen to your clients and make them the complete focus of your sales process you will learn how to effectively meet their needs and at the same time become more effective in your sales approach. Learning how to effectively sell starts with listening and understanding the people you are trying to sell to.
Hi Joe. Fun in the way that it allows us to grow and reach a higher level. But, that’s not to say it’s always fun as it’s happening. Of course, the more comfortable you are with the situation and the more you already know how you’re going to respond (and begin to see the predictable results that benefit your prospects), yes, the process itself does become fun.
Gill, thank you, my friend. Coming from a true sales pro such as you, I take that as a great compliment.
Hi Jonathan, very true. Thank you for sharing.
Bob, this is brilliant as always 🙂 As Gill said, you’ve definitely mastered this art!