So often salespeople are doing a great job during the course of a sales meeting until the prospect asks a question, to which the salesperson answers in a way that discourages the prospect. Immediately at that point the sales meeting falls apart and the sale is lost. Whenever prospects ask us questions we have to be very cautious about not stepping on a landmine that will ultimately derail the conversation.

Three Ways to Answer any Question Without Stepping onto a Landmine

#1. Fight the urge to answer the question immediately. All our lives we’ve been taught that to win brownie points we must answer questions immediately and correctly. Just think of when we were in grade school: As soon as you raised your hand and answered a question correctly you got a star.

Unfortunately, that same impulse to hastily answer does not help in sales. Hold off on the urge to answer immediately.

#2. Learn why the prospect asked the question. For example, if a prospect asks, “Can you deliver this product within a week?” Most salespeople will want to immediately respond with an enthusiastic “Absolutely! We can deliver within a week, no problem!”

Instead of immediately responding this way, simply ask, “That’s a really interesting question; help me understand why you asked that.”

The prospect may explain that he actually doesn’t want the delivery within a week; the product isn’t ready to move for a month, even. If you quickly respond that you can deliver within a week, you’ll get yourself into trouble. Always understand why the prospect asked a question.

#3. Dig into the motivation why they asked. Once you’ve asked prospects why they asked a question, it’s time to dig even deeper. So if a prospect asks, “Do you work with clients in my industry?” Rather than responding right away one way or the other, instead say, “Well, that’s a really interesting question; help me understand why you ask.” The prospect may reply, “Well, we’ve worked with people who are industry-specific to for us in the past, and it hasn’t gone well.”

From that point it’s your turn to probe more yet. So your next question might be, “Well, help me understand a little more about that; what happened in that particular situation?” Delve more deeply into the motivations behind the questions.

The last thing you want as a sales professional is to be caught off guard and feel you must dive into an answer. By applying these three simple steps for answering any question without stepping into a land mine, you are going to dramatically increase the likelihood of closing the sale. Which of these three steps did you find most useful? Please share below in the comments.

Get 25 tips to crush your sales goal. Written by Marc Wayshak, sales strategist & author of the book, "Game Plan Selling."

Marc Wayshak is a Motivational Sales Speaker, a Sales Keynote Speaker,
a Boston Motivational Speaker and a Sales Management Speaker