In almost every aspect of both your professional and personal life, you instinctively know the value of practice and being prepared. Actually, it’s not instinct at all. The desire to be ready to handle difficult questions arises from early failures to prepare. Practicing answers has saved many a school boy and many a relationship. At a certain age you learn the value of preparation, but often only after failing multiple times at a question you absolutely know is coming. There are some questions it makes sense to develop answers for well ahead of being asked. You know they are coming, you know the penalty for failure, and yet you let other matters take precedence until it is too late and you instead decide to improvise.
For example, here is a reasonably predictable question that some large portion of the population will be asked several times a year – Does this dress make me look heavy?
Various unprepared, and devastatingly wrong, answers:
- Maybe a little.
- Not really.
- Compared to what?
- Not as much as the other dress.
Even if you have survived in your personal life as a mostly unprepared pilgrim, remember professionals don’t “wing it.” The Boy Scouts have it right. Their motto is “Be prepared.” Your business life demands practice. How confident are you in your preparation for all of the following questions which you will almost surely be asked sometime this month:
- Can you compete with internet pricing?
- Why should I pay you a fee?
- I want to book a trip to (Borneo). Have you ever been to (Borneo)?
- Why should I use a travel agent?
- Will you rebate back part of your commission? I love Cruise Critic, don’t you?
- I’ve been checking on Trip Advisor and it says the hotel you booked us into is terrible. Is it?
You can add some more of your own, you know what they are likely to be.
Here is a tip that will save you much anxiety in the future: ask yourself each of these questions before a client asks you again. Write down your answers, role play them with your peers and company associates. Professionals don’t “wing it.” There are good, solid answers to each of those questions. However, unless you have thought through and practiced the answers, unless you can articulate a response without hesitation, honestly and authentically, you are going to sound a bit shakey and risk losing the confidence of your clients. That is setting yourself up for some unnecessary pain.
Be prepared. The career you save might just be your own.