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Deal with tough sales questions like a boss.

Whether you’re a business owner selling on your own, or you’re part of a large sales team, you have targets to hit. Every salesperson will encounter awkward or difficult questions fairly regularly, it’s just part of the job! 

Tough questions can sometimes throw you if you’re not expecting them, be about a negative or just be plain rude! Whatever the customer asks you need to be able to answer like a pro and keep that call on track. Avoiding the question will not build trust between you and your prospect, which is one of the fundamental building blocks of a sale.

Quickly learn five of the key ways you can answer any question a prospect throws at you here:

1. Be prepared

Whilst it’s difficult to anticipate every question that you might be asked, most customers just want to know what your product will do for them as quickly as possible. This can come across as abrupt or rude to you, so it’s important to respond well if you want to keep the prospect. 

Your answer should explain what difference they will see in their business by using your product, not just a list of what your product does. It’s ideal if this is personal to their company, so the more you’ve looked at the company you’re phoning, the easier this will be. 

Keep a record of difficult questions and objections you get, and your responses, and you’ll soon build a valuable list to refer to when you need. After a while you might even find you’re able to head off difficult questions by countering objections before the customer has even raised them!

2. Answer the question

We’ve all seen those politicians who can’t answer a question, so they just reel off a prepared speech which doesn’t actually answer the question at all. 

Your prospect simply won’t convert if you just avoid giving them an answer, no matter how well the rest of the call has gone. It comes across that you are hiding something and punches a hole in the trust you’ve been building so far.

So, first make sure you have listened and understand their question. Don’t be scared to clarify what they’re asking before you give them an answer, because that is actually much more professional and confident than simply missing the point. 

Secondly, try to answer honestly and concisely. Remember to talk in terms of what’s important to the prospect, including how they will benefit from using your product as mentioned in point 1. 

If their question really has you stumped, or highlights a shortfall in you product, show that you understand the problem and explain why you don’t have an answer – perhaps there isn’t one and no product can beat yours, or talk about how other customers handle the problem.

Finally, there will be times where you know that there is an answer to their question but you just don’t know it. In this instance, honesty is the best policy. Say that confidently, and that you’ll find out and get back to them and move on. Though this only works if you do then find out and get back to them – the quicker the better.

3. Stay cool

Difficult customers take pleasure in trying to rattle inexperienced salespeople. Some think this will get them a better price, some are just plain rude, and others think they need to prove they aren’t a soft sell or easy buyer. 

Whatever the situation, don’t take personally. Yes, it’s easy to say and much harder to do, but it’s one of the skills of all successful salespeople. Stay in control of the conversation, keep it positive and move the sale forward. 

As you master the other points here you often come across less and less ‘difficult’ prospects, because you are able to answer well and listen well, not get flustered and get rid of that ‘inexperienced vibe’ you may have unwittingly given off.

Remember, the prospect is always focussed on their interests, and is not going to help you make the sale.
4. Use humour

You don’t need to have the customer rolling around on the floor with laughter, but often keeping the mood light and humorous will work in your favour. Not only is it an easy way to be likeable and get your prospect to warm to you, but it can also make light of difficult questions.

For example, when a prospect asks something difficult, try a wide smile with a light-hearted ‘I’m so glad you asked me that question’. The prospect knows it’s a difficult question, so it makes light of that, and will also give you a brief moment to put together a proper answer. 

An added benefit is it comes across that you’re confident and not phased by the prospect. You’re someone they can rely on and trust, which is a great foundation for a sale!

5. Respect the customer

Try and avoid words or phrases that inadvertently puts the prospect down. A great example of this is using the word ‘obviously’. To the prospect, this can sound like ‘you should know this already, stupid’. It’s generally an unnecessary word and is heavily overused in sales.

Be polite and respectful and you will find it easier to move the conversation in the direction you want it to go. This means listening to what the prospect says and actually taking it on board in your responses. It shows a lack of respect when you don’t listen or acknowledge what a prospect is saying to you.


Above all, sales is personal. Use your strengths to build a rapport with your potential customers and remember what is important to them – if you can successfully create an image of the prospect’s life being better for having your product, they will buy it.

You’ll find insider sales tips and practical strategies in the Sales Masterclasses at The Northern Business Exhibition on 17th & 18th March at Manchester Central. It’s free to attend and it’s the biggest business event in the North of England.

Alongside the masterclasses, there’s also 1-2-1 expert appointments to answer your questions, a dedicated sales advice clinic, and plenty of exhibitors and support organisations for you to chat with including Huthwaite, Growth Stream, The Association of Professional Sales and Hamilton Moss.

All you need to do is get your free ticket online now, then come along to the event for free!
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