“I Don’t Know”, Three Powerful Words in Sales


When I started my career as sales professional, by somehow, it was embossed in my mind that I had to know everything. That was the only way to win trust of customers. I should be god for my products. Adding fuel to fire, marketing team handed over FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) about the products, which I was supposed to mug-up completely. I have no objection to accept that for a long time, I was allergic to these familiar words; “I don’t know”. For me, it was a shame. And based on interaction with hundreds of sales persons in my career, I can tell it with great surety that most of the sales professionals still considers it a weakness. I would like to mention here that I have no intention to say that one should not try to gather knowledge about their respective products and organization.


For long, ghost of “I don’t know” haunted me, till one of my old classmate from MBA, fortuned himself in another organization, got me to realize the other way around. And that was the turning point, when I completely deleted my false belief from the hard disk of my mind. Since then, I used to practice these set of words and got real insights about use and benefits of admitting, “I don’t know”, which I would like to share below: –


  1. Easing out stress during calls– If you are still afraid of using these magical words, you always feel stressed in any call with a back of mind fear about a tricky question. This not only affects your listening power, but also keeps you from gelling with customers smoothly.


  1. Lying is a trap– You are living in an age of internet, where information is just one “CLICK” away. Clients are as well informed as or even more informed than you are. In this situation, lying to any question only put you in trap, create problems and jeopardise relation with clients. Hence, it is better to use the three words in question, “I don’t know”. With this, you can create a bridge, rather than spoiling long term relations.


  1. Opportunity to engage customer– When you admit that you don’t know and you will get back to client, this gives you good opportunity to engage customer. An ordinary sales call is just meeting a customer and getting his yes or no. Unfortunately, in today’s competitive world, you can hardly leave any impression on client’s mind with ordinary calls. Such ‘I don’t know” incidences are wonderful opportunity to engage customers with more meetings and phone calls.


  1. Opportunity to showcase dedication– Beside engaging customers, as described in previous point, such incidences also are points, where you can show your dedication towards solving customer’s problem. In these situations, you should ask more questions from clients about his unanswered query and try to get his scope of curiosity. Once you are through with this, start your home work with concerned people in your organization and then get back to client.

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