Even though you’ve done due diligence and navigated your way through the steps of a successful sales call, customers may still be reluctant to move forward. This can be frustrating, as by this point you’ve consistently checked for customer acceptance during the process and on the surface it appeared you were both heading down the path of a clear, complete and mutual understanding of the customer’s needs.
Additionally, after recognizing your customer’s buying signals and receiving their acceptance of the next steps you’ve proposed, the only thing you expect to hear is a resounding “Yes!” Instead, your balloon quickly deflates when you hear something like “Sounds good, but it’s too early to make a decision.” or “Things are a little crazy right now. I’d like to hold off on making a decision for a while.”
Here’s my advice: DON’T GIVE UP YET! Take a deep breath, compose yourself, and then fall back upon the skills you’ve learned while becoming a polished professional salesperson and take the necessary steps to continue the sales process.
Step 1: If the customer is reluctant to move ahead, probe to find out why.
Probe by asking open-ended questions to entice your customer to share more information, such as:
- “Can you tell me what your hesitation is?”
- “What needs to happen before you’re ready to make a decision?”
- “Is there something else that we need to talk about?”
Reluctance to move ahead is typically the result of your customer having a concern. Concerns are not necessarily a negative thing. In fact, concerns are actually a sign of interest and can provide important insight into a customer’s situation.
Step 2: Determine the type of concern your customer has.
There are three major types of concern:
- Skepticism – The customer doubts a feature or benefit you have described
- Misunderstanding – The customer thinks you cannot provide a feature or benefit that you actually can provide
- Drawback – The customer is dissatisfied with the presence or absence of a feature or benefit
Step 3: Resolve the concern your customer has
To resolve a customer concern and move forward, use this process:
- Probe to understand the concern
- Acknowledge the concern
- Address the concern by offering relevant proof or restating features and benefits
- Check for customer acceptance
TIP: Never try to address a customer concern until you are confident that you fully understand it. If you have doubts, continue to probe.
TIP: Never try to talk a customer out of a concern! This may appear as if you are discounting their need. Simply follow the process described above to learn more about the concern and then counteract it by offering relevant proof.
At this point, you may find that the customer’s “stall” has subsided and they may be ready to move forward, albeit at a slower pace. It’s now your responsibility to propose a lesser commitment than the one you originally asked for, but consider this a WIN as you’ve successfully kept the sales process in motion and the opportunity to receive a “Yes!” still exists.
Have a great week,
If there are specific topics you’d like to see discussed in a future issue of The Sales Cycle, please contact me at (612) 278-0223 or firstname.lastname@example.org