Here’s a common selling scenario:
Joe’s had several meetings with a prospect over the past three months. The prospect expresses clear interest in Joe’s product, so Joe wraps up the meeting by saying, “How soon can we move forward?”
The prospect responds: “I’m very impressed with what you have to offer … but I’ll need to consider what we’ve talked about today.”
Joe’s getting antsy. This sale is taking way longer than he expected. On the other hand, every buyer has his or her own style, and Joe doesn’t want to crowd his customer. So what should he do?
I think he should crowd his customer.
After three months, Joe has no idea where he stands, what he needs to do next, or even whether this is an opportunity worth pursuing any further. This customer isn’t considering anything. He’s stalling Joe.
Decoding the message
Many salespeople don’t like to pin down buyers. They don’t want to sound pushy. They think a direct question will scare the prospect off. And most of all, they’re afraid the answer will be “no sale.”
Prospects who stall are sending you a message. And you will never make the sale unless you figure out what that message is.
Here are some possibilities:
“I don’t really have the authority to say yes … but I like feeling important.”
“You’re not really hitting my hot button … but I’m too polite to say so.”
“There’s something that’s making me hesitate … but if I tell you what it is, I won’t be in a strong negotiating position”
“I’m afraid to make a decision … but I’ll never admit it.”
“If I keep putting you off, you might offer me a better deal.”
The real reason
Wouldn’t it be better if Joe knows what’s really holding things up? He may not hear what he’s hoping to hear, but once he knows, he can either address the objection or conclude that the buyer is never going to buy. Either way, he’s moving forward.
Don’t be afraid to pin buyers down when they keep putting you off: “Gee, Ms. Buyer, we’ve been at this for a while now and we don’t seem to making progress. Can you tell me why?”
That may sound blunt, but if you’ve invested the time and effort, you’ve earned the right to ask. And chances are, a real prospect will respect you for asking.
photo credit: Jordiet.
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