You just asked: “Based on your LinkedIn, I figured that you have a hand in improving x and y, is that right?”
Your prospect replies: “Wait a sec. Now what is it that your company does, exactly?”
How do you respond?
If you’re like most cold callers, your prospect’s abrupt, tangential response will prompt you to make a critical mistake.
If you’re like most cold callers, you’ll give up on your question, launch into a disjointed spiel about everything your company offers, and then you’ll shyly ask the prospect if you managed to pique her interest at all. Your prospect will say, “No thanks,” and then she’ll hang up.
Allowing your prospect to skip over your question and ask one of her own cedes control of the conversation. It also implies that what you asked was unimportant.
Consider a parallel scenario. There’s no way you’d stand for this sort of reversal maneuver in conversation with a friend.
How would you feel if you asked your friend if she’d be free for dinner tomorrow night, and instead of answering your question, she replies by asking you if you saw the final minutes of yesterday’s ball game?
Would you then offer a detailed analysis of each player’s performance? Not a chance.
And in your cold calls, too, there’s a better way.
In your cold calls, when your prospect skips over your question and asks you one of her own, she’s expressing skepticism that your conversation plan aligns with her best interests. If you flat out ignore your prospect’s question, you prove that her concerns don’t matter to you, so the key is to walk a middle line.
Answer your prospect’s question in as few words as possible,
then use your answer to explain why your question was important.
Let’s rerun our first example.
You: “Based on your LinkedIn, I figured that you have a hand in improving x and y, is that right?”
Prospect: “Wait a sec. Now what is it that your company does, exactly?”
You: “Oh, of course. We’re a tech company that tackles challenges in x and y, which is why I wanted to see if you have a hand in either of those areas.”
When you return to your question and justify it, you prove that you’ve thought out the conversation plan more than your prospect has. Once she sees that you aren’t wasting her time with unimportant questions, she’ll be far less likely to reverse your questions throughout the rest of the conversation.
Ultimately, by briefly answering your prospect’s question and using it to justify yours, you’ve a) diffused tension by giving your prospect the answer she asked for, b) maintained control of the conversation by continuing to question, and c) built trust by demonstrating that your questions have value.
Never give up on a question.
Yours on the grind,