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Salespeople love to complain about buyers. One of the complaints salespeople share the most is that buyers never seem to make up their mind. Just about the time it looks like they’re going to make a buying decision, they suddenly hold off.
Yes, there are times when a buyer legitimately can’t make a decision.
Many times, though, the delay is nothing more than a tactic on the part of the buyer to get a better deal. This is especially true of professional buyers, who see numerous salespeople on a regular basis. Why should anyone make a decision quickly if they don’t have to?
Salespeople by nature are scared. Don’t take offense to my observation, because I include myself in this profession as well. We, unfortunately, can view things too quickly in a negative manner. For most salespeople, the way out of a situation like this is to immediately offer the buyer a price reduction. This is exactly what the buyer wants! They are looking for the salesperson to show some fear and some sense that the sale may not happen at all. Once the buyer smells fear, they know a better deal is about to appear.
This is also a key reason why many professional buyers love to ignore phone calls, emails and all other forms of communication from salespeople. Nothing can make a salesperson more scared than a buyer who doesn’t communicate with them. If you’re a buyer, it’s hard to find any activities that can result in a higher return on investment than ignoring a salesperson or holding off on making a decision. These tactics usually result in saving money.
Now let’s look at this challenge from a salesperson’s perspective. Salespeople love to close sales and they also love to close sales quickly, preferably with as little effort as possible. But effort — particularly mental effort — can make the difference. This is the ability to understand and rationalize objectively what is happening and what is not happening. This means understanding why the buyer does need to buy from you and how what you’re selling will allow them to achieve their needs and objectives. The more you can build this kind of objective thinking into your attitude, the better equipped you are to keep negativity at bay. Negative thinking is the culprit that takes the biggest toll on a salesperson’s level of success.
As soon as the salesperson begins viewing the situation negatively and how the sale may not occur, it’s only natural for them to think the solution is to lower the price or offer something extra in the form of service. When the salesperson does this, two things happen. First, it confirms in the buyer’s mind why the smart thing to do is to slow down the decision-making process. Second, it destroys profit margin for the salesperson.
While there are several techniques to counter these outcomes, there really is only one that is foundationally most important — the confidence of the salesperson. If the salesperson is not confident, then every other tactic or strategy is useless and will have little effect. Everything starts with the salesperson.
Confidence begins with the total belief in your own skill set as a salesperson and total belief in your ability to help the buyer fill the needs they have. If you don’t believe in both of these, then there is nothing else you can do to prevent the buyer from taking advantage of you by delaying their decision. Buyers, especially professional buyers, can discern very quickly how confident a salesperson is. If they sense the salesperson is not confident, then they’ll delay their decision. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain by doing so.
On the other hand, if you as the salesperson are determined to regularly and intentionally strengthen your own resolve and your own confidence, your natural reaction to stalling buyers will not be to cave under the pressure. Your reflex will be to wholeheartedly believe in your product, your price and your potential to help the customer achieve their goals.
Are you going to let fear or confidence determine your future? The choice is yours, so choose wisely. And profitably.
About the author
Mark Hunter, The Sales Hunter, is a consultative selling expert committed to helping individuals and companies identify better prospects, close more sales, and profitably build more long-term customer relationships. He is also author of “High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.”