“I Don’t Know” (Issue 833)

In which we are reminded (once again!) to prepare carefully  in advance for clients’ and prospects’ questions.

When sales people call on me, my favorite first question is, “What do you know about us?”

A story from a friend.

One of my friends’ mothers passed away at the end of a long life and I planned to go to the graveside service to pay my respects to her and her mother. It was a beautiful spring day. I arrived at the cemetery early enough to find them and have a few minutes before the ceremony began.

As I drove into the cemetery, I saw a group of people gathered at a graveside some distance away. Thinking that I’d somehow arrived late, I drove up quietly, got out of my car, and approached the group.

The officiating minister was just finishing up. As I listened, I realized that I didn’t recognize anybody in the group and I didn’t see my friend.

Several of the mourners approached the minister to say how beautifully he’d spoken and how wonderful the service had been. As they stepped away, I approached him and asked, “Was this the service for Mary Smith?”

He looked at me, shrugged indifferently, and said, “I don’t know.”

Well, I suppose the good news is: the minister was organized enough to show up on time and bring the right materials with him.

On the other hand, I would not say that he was “prepared” for his graveside call. Maybe a quick few minutes in the parking lot.  What could he possibly have known about the life and company of the woman he had just buried if his answer to the question was, “I don’t know”?

They are wise, those who sell, if asked, “What do you know about our company?”, to have prepared sufficiently that they can do more than shrug and say, “I don’t know” or blabber some blarney that, in the end, says the same.

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