Getting buyers to level with you

by on May 16, 2011 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Top Sales Dog

No matter how forceful you are, some buyers are just about impossible to pin down.

When you ask a question, they respond with a question. When you ask what they think, they ask what you think. When you ask for a decision, they change the subject.

Blame it on the boss…
Customers have lots of reasons to hedge their answers. They don’t want to offend you, or look stupid, or say something that could come back to haunt them later.

One way to get the straight scoop is by bringing in a third party – not literally, but hypothetically.

For example, instead of asking, “Joe, what do you think of this idea?” you can ask, “Joe, what will your boss think of this idea?”

This approach lets Joe off the hook. After all, he’s just telling you what the boss thinks. Except, of course, he’s really telling you what he thinks. Even if Joe has discussed the idea with his boss, you’re still getting his version of the boss’s opinion. That tells you something about the boss – and a whole lot about Joe.

…or on someone else
Different third parties can give you different insights. Depending on the type of sale, they can be anyone who’s potentially involved in a decision, such as:

  • a peer
  • a subordinate
  • a spouse
  • a friend

They don’t even have to be a real person: “Joe, how do you think a typical purchasing manager would react to this proposal?”

Source: Chuck Reaves is a sales consultant and author based in Atlanta. For more info, contact Chuck at 770-979-3321 or

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