What do you do when the sales process has gone too far? What do you do when a prospect promises to buy, but never does. What do you do with the prospect who is always one more sample, one more demo, one more month, one more something away from buying?
Jill Konrath author of S.N.A.P. selling answered this question on her blog the other day. It was a good post, quick and to the point. You can read it here. It’s worth it.
I agree with Jill. Just because you’re a sales person doesn’t mean you are a doormat. Don’t let prospects take advantage of you. Make your prospects participate in the sales process with you. Selling isn’t a one way street.
Jill’s advice is good, but I think it addresses the symptom not the problem. The problem is we get into situations where a prospect continually asks for more and never buys we because haven’t held him or her accountable for their part in the sales process along the way. We are out of whack. When a prospect asks for a sample, a demo, collatoral, a conference call or even more time, the sales person MUST understand what the prospect is looking to get out of the request. How is the sample, the demo, more time etc., going to help in making a decision. What is the expected outcome? Understanding what the prospect is looking to get from their requests is the responsibility of the sales person. At the conclusion or delivery of every request it is incumbent on the sales person to ask; did you get what you were looking for? In these situations the sales person must take the lead and get the prospect to take ownership and accountability. If they did get what they were looking for, then that box should be checked off and the sales should be closer to closure. If not, why? Find out what else is needed to satisfy the prospect, but don’t move on to another issue or objection. Close the open one first.
When a customer asks for a demo, a sample, more time, or more collateral they are looking for information to drive to a decision. If this isn’t happening, they aren’t going to make a decision. When they aren’t going to make a decision, Jill’s advice is spot on. The key is to find out as early as possible if they aren’t going to buy. The best way to do this is make sure you know why the prospect wants a sample, a demo or more time and make sure they get what they were looking for. Once you’ve delivered make sure the prospect agrees they got what they were looking for as well. Do this and they can’t keep asking for more stuff. If they don’t agree, don’t give them more stuff until the issue is closed. As a sales person, providing “stuff” without understanding why the customer wants it and holding them accountable for getting it, wastes everyones time. Eventually, the scenario Jill discusses will emerge and everyone has lost.
Don’t let the sale go too far. Make each request count. Make sure the prospect is participating in the sales process with you. Hold them accountable and what ever you do, as Jill says, don’t be a doormat.