About five years ago my wife and I were watching TV when a commercial appeared for a brand-name water filtering system where not one word was spoken. In pantomime fashion, a guy poured like amounts of red wine into two containers of water and then ran them through competing filter systems.
What blew us away was how only the featured filtration system produced completely clear water. That really brought on a WOW since red wine is pretty hard to hide. It was obvious to us from this simple silent demo that the 5-stage filter system did the job, so that item immediately went on our Christmas list!
Your prospects can’t see a picture of the emotional benefits they would experience by buying, so if you aren’t painting this picture for them, the results are on you. You shouldn’t be surprised you are rejected by not conveying this vision.
Ask Don’t Tell
So how do you know if they “see” what you are describing? As always, questions are your best friends:
- What do you think?
- How does this sound to you?
- Why am I the only one who thinks this solution will resolve it?
- Where did I lose you?
If you still can’t get to ‘yes’ maybe the prospect didn’t hear enough evidence, so ask them:
- What information do you need and how would you prefer to receive it?
- Maybe they want a demonstration, a testimonial, or some factual data (Excel spreadsheet), etc.
- When I provide what you request in the format you requested, what will happen next?
If this is provided and you are still on the outside looking in, run another lap.
Possibly the prospect you are working with doesn’t have the SOLE authority to say ‘yes.’ You should have already asked for all the stakeholders to be present, but if not you can still salvage the deal.
If you hear them begin to mention that they need to bounce this off the other spouse, or a quality control engineer, etc., this may be when you discover an ‘invisible man’ you had no idea needed to be included. Maybe it’s a father of the spouse, although both husband and wife are sitting in front of you. Possibly the brother of a widow you are proposing that is normally consulted on big decisions. Whoever else needs to be there, when you are satisfied you are selling to ‘the real McCoy’ or ‘the complete package’ you should be able to move forward.
Tie Up the Loose Ends
Ask questions about what you’ve discussed so far, but this time in the form of open questions beginning with what, who, where, how, why, or which.
- Now that we agree on what your wants are, what happens next?
- You asked for a testimonial from another homeowner to prove we can do what we claim, and I furnished that to you. Assuming you’re impressed, how do we move forward?
If you are still unable to get traction, the decision maker may be bluffing you in order to get a concession of some sort.
When you are trying to finalize a sale, you should be systematic and follow the sequence laid out here, without skipping around. The common mistake most salespeople make is always assuming it’s about price, and they begin to commit the felonies of exaggerating and caving. Don’t make that mistake but rather take the time to consider what really went wrong.
A Real Life Example
A salesperson in one of my online coaching groups made a bundled proposal to a homeowner consisting of three different services his home needed. The prospect verbally agreed that this was a good solution but didn’t immediately sign an agreement, wanting to huddle with his wife to make sure they were on the same page.
A few days later the guy told the salesperson they liked his solution best. They also said his price was substantially more than two other companies that provided estimates for the work. He was asked to come back, but to sharpen his pencil if he really wanted to win the job.
Asking for help with a strategy to win the sale, we discussed some ideas. Thinking back through the initial appointment, this rep was confident he and the homeowner were in agreement on what his services would provide.
This seller included several photos from previous customers. He also provided a video testimonial from one of them when he went on the initial appointment. He felt the price push back was most likely due to either the spouse’s intervention or simply a bluff.
The salesperson texted the homeowner to say that he was surprised to still be in the running in light of their comments on the sizeable price difference. He asked what in particular about his service kept him in consideration. The text concluded by asking if it meant they were officially rejecting his bid.
The couple apparently had another round of discussion among themselves. I say this because the next day they accepted his proposal without pressing for a price reduction.
It could have just as easily gone the other way. When that happens simply tell your prospect you understand, and you accept their decision. Then ask them, what happens next?
If someone is bluffing, this strategy will typically smoke them out. You just need to be tough enough to stand in and respond in an ‘outside your comfort zone’ manner.
————Doug, Too Polite?————
Your analysis of the guys conducting the role play presentations was very blunt, and yet still too polite. You’re a very nice man sir! Thanks for all you are doing for us. John Embry, Atlanta. Take a peek under the tent!
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