When asked the unexpected, being able to reply in a timely fashion and in a way that moves the conversation or relationship forward is a key skill in relationship building and so it is in Sales.
Unexpected questions or answers during a conversation can be very damaging. They can lead the conversation off course (getting side-tracked), ignite the emotions surrounding (blow it out of proportion) it or stop it completely (kill it with no resolution). I will call these unexpected questions, answers and statements conversation bombs. How you react to and treat these bombs will determine their effect on the conversation and your relationship.
An example of a blow it out of proportion or possible kill it bomb is: You are in the office of the store manager, talking about the products they use and the fit with AMSOIL products to better serve his customers. As you are explaining the benefits of AMSOIL he pulls a bottle of Brand X out sets it on the table and says “I love this stuff, use it in everything I have.” The mere sight of this competitor’s bottle in front of you elevates your blood pressure. His words of commitment to this brand agitate you, especially when you know that AMSOIL has a much better product. Your face may already be showing the storm brewing inside you. You muster the courage to speak and you say……….
What do you say? Do you attack the manufacture, regurgitating every possible bad thing you can think of about them, factual or not? Do you launch into the many reasons why AMSOIL is superior? Do you chuckle or even straight out laugh? Hopefully you don’t do any of these as doing them would certainly end poorly. One way to reply that won’t end poorly might go something like this: We, I am glad you found a product you like and trust. Tell me, what is about Brand X that you like the most? Interesting, so to you the fact that they are big into racing means their consumer product must be good. Is that correct? Ok. I sure understand about the need of a product to perform at the track and why it is natural to assume that same performance capability would be in their consumer product. Do you mind if I tell you a story about AMSOIL and racing? “Sure, I love a good story”.
You then recite the story of AMSOIL saving the gear boxes of Bobby Unser’s race cars and how he went from not finishing to not needing to change out the fluid or work on the gear box for weeks. After your customer replies to this story you can add “Today, AMSOIL is the Official Oil of many racing series and events such as; TORC Off-Road racing, Supercross and Arenacross, Sturgis, Daytona and Laconia motorcycle rallies. We are also the factory fill on the Erik Buell Racing superbikes.
In this scenario you took a challenge given by the customer and turned it into a way to talk about AMSOIL in an area that your customer has lots of interest. This increased your and AMSOIL’s credibility and furthered the relationship by demonstrating to your customer that you aren’t hardheaded and you don’t have knee jerk reactions to things out of your control. You are interested in the customer and what they have to say no matter if it is contrary. The ability to think on your feet can be learned through practice, patience, humility and respect for others. Begin at home and with friends and fellow Dealers, soon it will be second nature to you.