If you want to build relationships with customers, you need to be able to engage them in discussions about their needs and your products or services without you being argumentative or feeling defensive.
Let’s say you’re talking with a customer and he asks a difficult question such as, “Isn’t it true that your product doesn’t do X, and your competitor’s does?”
This is where an inexperienced employee could be tempted to stoop to criticizing the competition or to (ahem) providing an “inaccurate response to the question.”
Or, to exclaim something like, “That’s not true!” or “No! You’re wrong about that.”
Responding in this manner can result in the customer cutting short the conversation and taking his business elsewhere. Some much for THAT relationship.
There is a three-step process that can help you respond to difficult questions and that helps you build rapport with the customer.
Step 1: When the customer asks a difficult question, look him in the eye, smile, and say, “I’m so glad you asked that.”
Step 2: Answer the question truthfully and succinctly. Consider using a story to illustrate your point. For example, Dale Carnegie recommended relating an incident (or brief story) make your point, and then state the benefit.
Step 3: When you’ve finished, ask the question, “Does that answer your question?” If you stayed on message, it should. If you got off on a tangent or the customer didn’t understand the question, this gives you a second chance.
If you are working behind a desk or counter, you may be able to ease a tense situation by coming over to the same side as the customer. If you are standing, don’t face the customer directly, that may be perceived as being too antagonistic. Instead, stand at about a forty-five degree angle to the customer. Continue to smile and make eye contact. If appropriate, take notes.
If “I’m so glad you asked,” doesn’t fit your style, there are other ways you can respond. “That’s a great question.” Or simply, “Great question.” These alternates can also be used when the customer asks multiple questions.
Don’t run from difficult questions. Answering them truthfully, professionally, and in a friendly fashion can dramatically tip the scales in your favor.