We all had a sale that got stuck somewhere along the way. We thought everything was going great because the customer was responding so positively to everything. In fact, you felt like they were almost ready to sign, but they held back at the last minute for whatever reason and left the conversation promising to get back to you soon with an answer. Then nothing. All you have left of that opportunity is a trail of follow up voicemails and emails that feel a little more hopeless and desperate with each message. The sale is not only stuck; it is sinking, sinking, sunk. But why? Where did we go wrong? We were so close. What could we have done differently? There is at least one mistake that you made that you can be certain of; you left the sale without any planned follow up with a definite time, method and place on everyone’s calendar. Trusting a customer to plan and execute the next step in a sale is almost certain failure and we have all done it. ‘Take a couple of days to think it over and get back to me’ is often the kiss of death for a sale. The customer now has no expectation or obligation to follow up with you unless they feel like it. Sometimes you will get lucky, but often you play a waiting game when you could have done something simple to keep the sale moving forward in that moment. When you reach the end of your sale and there is no conclusion, try these simple tips to keep the opportunity in play.
- Address the objection – When a sale reaches the think-it-over phase, you have arrived at a moment of truth. Do you know what the customer is hung up on? Did you ask them? Make sure you have covered all of their concerns by empathizing and asking. “I don’t blame you for thinking it over. I do that too sometimes. Do you mind me asking what portion of this sale has you the most concerned? What is the most important factor for you to make this decision?” If you haven’t already, take time to address their concern and make sure there is nothing left unspoken.
- Set the next meeting – Don’t leave a meeting without having the next step firmly established. Need time to think over the proposal? No problem. Let’s get a date on the calendar now for next week. If the customer cannot commit to a follow up meeting you can probe them for more information. “I sense that you are hung up on something. What is your biggest concern about making this purchase?” If there is still no commitment, it is probably time for both parties to move on.
- Extend an invitation – Unless you already had your customer at your office or facility, invite them to do so so they can get a sense of your quality and customer care. If they are serious about the deal, they will often want to take you up on your offer. If they agree to your invitation, there is a strong chance that you will close the deal.
- Perform a demonstration – Again, unless a demo is already a part of your pitch and presentation, this can be a great next step for your customer who is not ready to sign yet. Allow them to touch, test, and sense the experience of your product. Much like a facility visit, if a customer agrees to a demonstration, you have greatly increased your odds of closing the deal.
- Create an expectation – No one wants to be pressured in a deal, but we still have to treat one another with respect and professionalism. Some people need more time to research and think than others, but almost everyone has an end date in mind and your job as a salesperson is to learn what that is. Let the customer know what your expectations are as well as finding theirs. ‘Mr Customer, in my experience, most customers make this purchasing decision by 2 weeks. When do you expect to make your decision and can we agree on a time to meet on that date?