I have found that answering questions is one of the most difficult things to do as a communicator. Especially in sales, where you are being compared to other people/products and one element of weakness can mean a lost close. We teach a wonderful method to handle difficult Q&A in our Great Answers to Tough Questions half-day workshop.
I recently had an interaction with a sales person from a notable auto manufacturer named after the man that invented the first horseless carriage that was comical because he refused to answer the question. We are in the early stages of research on buying a new vehicle. I had a nice in-person visit with this salesperson, went home to see what the Internet had to say, and had this dialog with him via email. Me (one question of several):
The 2013 “Get Me Outta Here” gets some rather scathing reviews on its reliability, especially with its electronics. What has changed in 2014?
His response, after 11 days (including some holidays, but still…):
Thanks for contacting me and your interest in the Henry Get Me Outta Here You are correct, there have been concerns with the 2013 Get Me Outta Here leading to a recall. The 2014 Get Me Outta Here has resoved (sic) these issues and does not have any recalls.
I’m not buying a car on this information alone. I suppose I could look it up, but then why would I need a sales person? My response (not snipped):
What is different on the Get Me Outta Here in 2014?
His response (not snipped):
The issues have been addressed and resolved.
Great! They’ve been resolved! I don’t know, other than MY research, what those issues were, but I am sure I can trust the salesman who stands to gain great personal gain by selling me this car that whatever issues they had, were resolved. He even said so. And had there been a larger dialog (there hadn’t) or some sort of relationship (there wasn’t), that may be sufficient. As it stands, the impression I get (which is a major factor in buying decisions on the $30k variety) is this guy will not give me a straight answer. And I will not give him my business. Their website touts them as the 2013 Dealership of the Year. Maybe the stereotypes of car salesmen are correct. I had hoped that wouldn’t be the case.
Step two of our methodology in Q&A is simple, and required.
Answer the question.