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Answer The Damn Question

I interact with a lot of sales people. I also eavesdrop in public, a lot. Both are fun for me. It always amazes me when a question is asked how infrequently a sales person answers directly. The best way to establish trust early in any relationship is to be transparent, direct and be quick. I once had a boss that would say "Be Brief. Be Bright. Be Gone" I like this. I believe in this. Below are some recent interactions with some hotel sales people who were not brief or bright. They definitely did not answer questions directly.

Below are exact questions I asked and answers I received:

Question: Are you on the beach?

Answer: Yes, we are 15 minutes from the airport. Our location is perfect. You'll love it.

Question: Who is in your competitive set?

Answer: It's easy to book our hotel, we are across from the mall.

Question: How are you handling Covid safety in your hotel and...?

Answer: In the middle of my question she shows me a video (a bad one--blurry) that doesn't show any Covid safety measures and is basically just a bunch of waves and pools.

Question: Are you in the process of being sold or new management?

Answer: One constant about our hotel is that we are always making improvements and always renovating.

WHAT THE WHAT??? None of the answers above remotely answer the questions. I'd like to think I can blame this on language barrier, bad hearing, bad cell phone reception or anything else, but the lines were clear, the voices were audibly sound and there were no obstructions to communication in the scenarios above. They were all non direct answers that sales people totally bombed when I asked.

I am all about product pride and wanting to show your wares. However, when you are not listening to the question, and clearly thinking about the next thing you want to say as soon as you hear a pause, I can tell. I can hear the anticipation in your voice. I can hear you not listening to me when you're looking at me on a zoom call or even when I can't see you on a phone call. Stay present. Stay connected. You never know where the conversation will take you if you just engage and listen. Listening is a fine art. Few people do it well.

PRO TIP: When you're talking with someone face to face, a good way to practice listening is to look at the color of their eyes when they speak and commit that color to memory. It forces you to be present. It forces you to listen to the other person and engage with the actual conversation that is happening in real time.

Next time a customer asks you a question, just answer it. Answer the specific question he/she is asking you, even if it's not the question you want to answer. You can always guide the conversation toward something you want to talk about after you answer. If you answer the question with something you want to talk about or a pre-rehearsed talking point and it's unrelated to the direct question being asked, you'll look foolish, probably lose a customer and might show up in a blog post. Don't do it. Listen and answer--directly.



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