Article: "Playing Ping Pong"
by Stephanie Johnson, from the book, "Digging for Diamonds"
The sheer phrase makes most marketers want to go crawl under a bed and hide.
Unfortunately, that is exactly how questions from prospects make us feel
sometimes. Like running for your life dodging dangerous bullets. They make you
want to dive under your bed to escape the bullets buzzing over your head. Do
you ever feel that way?
Your perception needs to change. Questions aren't bullets. They aren't even all
that dangerous. Questions are a BUYING SIGN. Did you get that? Questions are
the indicator that a prospect is really interested in what you have to offer.
If they weren't interested, they would have sat there silently and then hung up
on you. The fact that they are asking questions let you know they are hot
prospects! The more they ask, the hotter they are!
Okay, so now maybe you are starting to understand that questions aren't always
a bad thing... but you still have a knot in your gut. Why? Why didn't that
knowledge make you feel any better?
Because you think you have to know the answer, right?
There is one thing, and only one thing, that I ever make my team memorize. It's
very short, very simple, but can make or break a presentation - "That's a great
question. I've never had that one before. Let me find out and I'll get right
back with you."
I can hear some of you now - "What?? Admit that I'm brand new and don't know
anything? Are you crazy?"
There's a great quote that says "You can be right, or you can rich." Sometime
swallowing your pride and admitting you don't know something is exactly what
you need to do to earn your prospect's respect. They don't expect you to
personally have all the answers. They just expect their questions to be
satisfied. Actually, saying you don't know but that you'll find out, and then
calling them back with that information, shows them how dependable and
resourceful you are and earns you BIG brownie points! You should look forward
to questions as a way to gauge your prospect's interest.
The one thing that will ruin your presentation faster than anything is to try
to make up an answer or pretend to know what you're talking about when you
really don't. They will know. The weren't born yesterday. It's obvious when you
are "BS"-ing them.
How do they know?
Well imagine this... you walk into your kitchen and see your 6 year old
standing there with flour spilled all over the floor. You ask, "Did you do
this?" and he begins to stutter, "Um...well...I...um..."
Okay. Stop. You know he's about to lie. He doesn't even have to finish the
sentence. How do you know? Because you never have to think about the truth. You
only have to think about a lie. Lying takes effort. The truth is easy. You
already know the truth.There's nothing to think about.
So what happens when you are talking to a prospect and they ask a question you
aren't sure how to answer? Do you stutter a little while you try to think up
the best way to answer that question? Well, your prospect misinterprets that
hesitation as you thinking up a fish story. So whatever you say next they will
certainly doubt. All because you hesitated.
So how do you fix that? By imagining yourself playing "Ping Pong"...
What is "Ping Pong"?
Ping Pong is my own, personal term for answering objections. So what do paddles
and a little white ball have to do with answering objections? Well, that
analogy conjured up better feelings than dodging bullets, didn't it?
In the game of Ping Pong, you are tapping a light, little plastic ball. You're
not sweating and grunting lifting weights. You're not slamming a home run
through a neighbor's window with a rock-hard baseball. You are just standing
there... gently tapping a tiny ball as it touches your side of the net. Tap -
tap, tap - tap, tap - tap, tap - tap. It's a rythmic game. If you hesitate,
even for a second, you will drop the ball and you'll lose. So it is imperative
that you stay on your toes, focus to a fine point, and stay on your game. Ping
Pong is not a sport you dread... it's something fun, light, and rythmic. And
that's exactly how I want you to see answering objections.
When a prospect starts to ask a question, your mind automatically races ahead
and starts guessing where they are going with that question. Halfway through
most questions you already know where they are headed. So, in your mind, go
ahead and formulate your first sentence. This will minimize any hesitation you
might otherwise have had. Different sales trainers teach different ways of
doing this. Some tell you to re-state the question to them, which buys you time
to think up the best way to answer it. Others simply have you always start with
"Great question, I'm glad you asked that" to accomplish the same thing. Those
things are okay, but I prefer to teach my group to just be honest with
themselves and admit if they don't really know how to answer that question and
get their rote phrase ready instead. So one of two things will come out of
their mouth for any question - 1) the actual answer, or 2) their offer to find
the answer. This way, they never need to hesitate or stutter.
Scripts are great, but I believe it's more important to understand how to
handle the random questions than to know how to recite a script. Why? Because
it is a 100% certainty that one day a prospect will throw you a curve ball and
knock you off your script. If all you know is how to do is read that piece of
paper on your desk, how will you know how to get back on track? I'll tell
you.... by knowing how to tackle ANYTHING they can think up.
Knowing how to play the game gives you power. Pick up your paddle, keep your
eye on the ball, and play to win... no matter what your prospects throw at
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