Written by Sean McPheat |
One of the most difficult conversations you’ll probably have is the one where the prospect can’t make their mind up, is indecisive or doesn’t know how to make a commitment.
Mainly, it’s down to fear of failure, or of making a mistake that will come back and haunt them later.
It’s a natural reaction, because who in their right mind wants to fail or be seen as a failure? Their indecisiveness is a logical reaction to a situation that is causing them some measure of pain. In many situations, whatever decision they make may have difficulties associated with it; if they say yes, it will cost them a lot of money…if they say no, it may cost them a lot of pain. What to do?
This dilemma is one that will not be sorted if you just sit there in silence. Nor will it resolve itself if you just ask patronising questions like ‘Have I explained everything?’ or ‘Shall we go over the offer again?’
No, the best way to deal with this is to actually raise the painful issues yourself. Risky? Maybe. Effective? Definitely.
Firstly, identify what might be the most difficult challenge in the sales process is going to be. Is it a price issue? How about delivery? Is it purely to changes that the prospect will have to go through in order to decide on your solution?
Whatever it is, or potentially might be, that’s stopping them from making a decision to move forward, bring it up yourself.
Put yourself in the shoes of the prospect identify what it is that is holding them back and then bring it up in the conversation. If there’s a problem that the prospect isn’t bringing up for a variety of reasons (e.g. they don’t know how to express the fear, they have a concern of looking cheap in your eyes if they ask for discounts, they haven’t the confidence to make a decision, etc) then you should have the courage to bring it out into the open so that you and they can make progress. You can use ideas similar to these:
“To be honest with you, I’m concerned about the price here. I’m unsure whether it’s right for you. What do you think?”
“I know we’ve spoken about how the programme will work, but I’m not sure it will fit into your schedules as things stand. Do you share the same thoughts?”
” Here’s something I’m not sure about. We’re trying to make sure this is the right plan for you and your family, and I’m not sure we’ve hit the right note here. Do you agree?”
” Although the solution looks good, I think there’s a challenge on how we are going to roll this out to the other decision makers. Do you share that concern too?”
By raising the possible stumbling block yourself, you get it out in the open and the ‘elephant in the room’ is uncovered. Whatever the challenges, by bringing them up yourself, you get the prospect feeling that this weight has been lifted and you can now start addressing the issues in front of you.
The alternative is that the prospect continues to hide the real reasons for holding back and you never actually get to the hub of the matter. They may just say they need time to think it over, then when you follow up with phone calls and emails, things go strangely quiet from their end.
I’m sure you’d much rather understand and clarify the real issues in the prospect’s mind so that you can address them immediately, rather than walking on egg shells trying to see if the solution could be shoe-horned into the existing situation.
By bringing up the potent ion blockage ourselves, we get a much better sense of where we are with the prospect, and can take the initiative in progressing the sale to its natural conclusion.
Originally published: 27 November, 2013