'I'll get back to you.' Salespeople can dream that line. Asked for the reason, often another unsatisfying cliché follows: 'I need to think about it.'
Usually, this also marks the end of the sales conversation, and subsequently, the last direct contact. For the prospect, the pressure is off, while the salesperson may still be euphoric about the well-conducted conversation.
The experienced know better: I'm now empty-handed, and for any follow-up, it will be hard pushing and pulling. And that's while the real sales conversation actually begins at that moment: as soon as the prospect indicates they want to postpone a decision. Also, pay attention to buying signals, which we have already written about extensively.
After the prelude of the initial exchanges, the play reaches its climax when a prospect asks for a delay. And then, not to be annoying, this rewards the persistent one. 'Work that out,' even though everything is clear. The starting shot for a long process of waiting and calling back. And irritation, often mutual, too.
Most salespeople's pipelines are bursting with such prospects. Evasives who dare not tell the truth, or in other words, do not want to hurt others and thus keep postponing the decision.
Many follow-up processes after a sales conversation are just busywork. Absolutely pointless and a waste of everyone's time. While the postponement of decisions can be prevented!
What does the prospect really have to say in the buying process? Are they a Decision-Maker or Influencer? The salesperson must know this role. Even better: who else is involved in the decision-making process?
If this is clear in advance, the salesperson reduces the chance that the final purchase decision is thrown indefinitely into the future. This knowledge makes it easier to answer the crucial question in a sales conversation: Why does the potential buyer want a delay?
There is an important question for the evasive. 'So, if the obstacles are removed, will I get the order?' You thus confront the evasive with a choice; they cannot seem to prolong the process without you being able to sell something. If you challenge your conversation partner correctly, you get a commitment. The key here is to find out what the real obstacle (or excuse) is. Then connect to it. Delve deeper into the 'excuse'.
If the door is nailed shut, ask what nails were used. If they are screwed shut? Ask about the screw size and tell them you are looking for the right screwdriver for them. Keep asking and solving with the highest aim: get them to be honest in their feedback! The probing provides the answer in the closing conversation: Which obstacle do you remove in what way? That opens the door.
By: Paul Schmidt
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