Over the years you will be asked by both prospects and customers to have your company create, build or supply a product, service or capability that is not part of your standard line.When that happens, and it will numerous times over the course of your sales career, it is advisable to think before answering. Thoughts that go through the minds of top sales performers are based on curiosity. Is there real interest or merely curiosity on the part of the buyer? You need to get some answers to determine the significance your prospect places on this opportunity. You need information too.
Why are you looking into this now? This discovers what sparked the interest and why it is being investigated in the first place. Is there a sense of urgency? Clearly if this is an imminent need you must know this right away for you and your company to react, especially if there are significant sales attached to the USSP request.After revealing questions such as these get posed and answered, you are now in a position to comment in a declarative fashion – but not before! You can respond affirmatively, not declaring a position just yet. The response used most frequently by top sales professionals goes something along the lines “I am not sure but let me check into it. When do you need a response from me?”
Just such a case happened several years ago when working with one of my sales representatives. At that time our company supported a line of equipment by a major manufacturer. However, our company had not been made public announcement that the manufacturers’ top of the line would be supported. Although we surmised the new flagship product would eventually be supported by us, we never actually committed this in front of the prospect. We wanted to be on solid ground before stating its support. We acted positive but non-committal. We responded with ‘let us check into it’. This bought us time needed to go back to our internal personnel to check status.Stating an action you will take demonstrates your commitment to check things out and gives confidence to your prospect that you clearly heard what they said, moreover you are going to do something about it, not merely sweep it under the rug. While you are at it, why not email what your understanding of the request was, include what action you will take and when they can expect your responses. There is nothing like something in writing!