Sometimes when we’re qualifying, we hear an “I don’t know” (IDK) response to a question we need to get answered to determine if the prospect we’re talking to is ideal.
In those moments it’s on us to simultaneously maintain rapport with our prospect while figuring out if their “I don’t know response” is fact or fiction.
A prospect may tell us “I don’t know” because:
- They don’t trust us – if our prospect senses that we’re leading them down a specific path (or into a trap) we lose rapport, which prompts them to brush us off with “I don’t know.” In this case we need to quickly determine if our conversation is broken beyond repair or if we have a chance at continuing our meeting with a real chance at earning this prospect’s business (e.g. “feels like I said or did something offside. Fair?”)
- We made our prospect uncomfortable – this often happens when we’re speaking with a non-decision maker who might not know the answer because our question is outside their scope. In these cases, we maintain rapport by making it okay for them to not know while seeking to find out who does (e.g. “that’s okay. Not everyone knows the first time I ask. Where might we find that information?”).
- They legitimately don’t know – again we want to keep our prospect feeling okay, but we also want to prompt their thinking, especially when we are speaking to a decision maker. (e.g. “I don’t know.” “That’s okay, now that you’re thinking about it what’s coming to mind?”). My Sandler coach uses “now that you’re thinking about it” to this day with me to help me discover answers that were already in my head.
If our prospect’s IDK response is because they don’t trust us, not stopping and attempting to reset our conversation before proceeding heads us down a path that usually ends in heartache and tears.
On the other hand, if we help our prospect discover a solution or learn from them where that information might be we want to get our prospect to recommit to the next steps we co-built with them to confirm that they aren’t trying to blow us off again.
At all costs we avoid responding to “IDK” with a stream of information that only provides our prospect with free consulting.
Our prospects are trained to use stalls and objections to get salespeople to say and do things not in their best interest. By staying present and genuinely seeking information we differentiate ourselves and avoid walking into our prospect’s trap.
Until next time… go sell something.