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You have done your work. Your sales presentation has been persuasive, and you hit on all the points that would bring high value to your prospective customer. But they just won’t make the decision to move forward.
Dealing with a prospect who is stuck in the pipeline and has all the information needed to do business can be frustrating. Before abandoning these prospects, try working through this checklist to move your buyer into action:
1. Verify that you understand their pain. Tell your prospect what you understand their business and the problem they are dealing with. After each major point, ask, “Am I seeing this clearly?” Allow them to correct you when necessary and ask if they believe you understand their problem fully.
2. Confirm you are talking to the right person. It’s important to ask how a decision is made in order to move forward with your type of deal. Listen carefully and ensure that your prospect is forthright. If they are not the person that can sign off on this project, ask for a meeting with all the parties that need to be involved. You may have to dig to find out what is causing reluctance if your prospect is not involving the appropriate people. If their gatekeeper behavior stems from politics, you must figure out how to reduce the risks they may not be articulating.
3. Equip the gatekeeper. If you are not talking to the decision maker and you are not able to gain access, then your next best tactic is to train the gatekeeper on how to sell to their supervisors on your behalf. Provide a special presentation that they can use to deliver to their boss or other authority in order to secure a meeting. Make it easy and ask permission to walk them through it so they can get comfortable, ask questions and present it themselves.
4. Ask about the budget. Your prospect may not be telling you that the price is high for them, so inquire directly: “What is your budget for this purchase?” and “Is there anything about the pricing that is holding you back?” These are focused questions that get to the root. Be sure to look for body language as well.
5. Present a different starting point. Ask about your prospect’s timeframe for moving forward. If it is months away from now and you would like to close the deal sooner, explore a revised way of starting the business relationship at a lower cost or a lower risk option. Suggest a smaller project or product that helps them get started while experiencing your company and service. This can reduce the risk, and it also allows you to jumpstart the business relationship.
6. Gauge their like and trust factor. It is sometimes tricky to find out if a prospect likes or trusts you. However, much of this can be inferred from their body language and tone. If there is high tension, you can usually sense that there is low trust. Approach the situation with delicacy and ask whether they feel they would have any challenges working with you. Listen carefully and examine their body language further to see if their guard goes down.
7. Cut bait. If a person is still hesitating and provides, “Maybe” as an answer, then move on. Nurture the prospect with periodic follow up via an email, newsletter or phone call. From there, you can direct your energy toward stronger prospects.
This checklist is designed to help you work through obstacles. Selling to hesitant prospects may not yield honest answers. For instance, if a prospect is not comfortable they may not say so. Similarly, if a prospect is using your information for their own education without intention to buy, then getting responses to the questions above will help you discover the underlying reasons.
Value your own time and attention, and focus it where there is viable payoff. If you have done your best as a salesperson, then this final checklist will either catalyze action and conversion, or give you peace of mind by bringing closure to the deal.
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