How many people do you think buy cars without test driving them? How many people buy a house without a showing? How many people buy a new coat without trying it on?
When it comes to making a purchase, people actively participate in the sale and the bigger the transaction, the more active in the sale they become.
I believe this premise holds true in B2B sales as well. Buyers who are true buyers will work just as hard as you to get the deal done. Those who won’t do the work are passive buyers.
Passive buyers are interested in your product or service. They have a real problem or need. They will put effort into the sale, just not very much. Passive buyers will engage multiple vendors. They will ask for a demo. They will ask for literature. Passive buyers will ask for references. They will ask for a presentation. They will ask pricing concessions. Passive buyers will ask you to do a lot of things to help them make a decision. Passive buyers will move through a sales cycle to the very end, just like an active buyer, but they won’t buy — EVER!
Passive buyers don’t always know they aren’t active buyers. They may not know they aren’t truly committed to buying. They may be unaware of their inability or unwillingness to buy. They do have a problem. They do have a need or opportunity to be addressed, but they just aren’t ready to buy. For this reason, it’s the sales persons job to spot a passive buyer before it’s too late.
The only way to spot a passive buyer is through their actions. You can’t rely on what a passive buyer says. They say and ask all the right things. To spot a passive buyer requires you ask them to work as hard as you through the sale. I talked about this in my Out of Whack post a while back. If a buyer asks for a demo, ask that he or she invite their boss, the CFO, an EVP or other stakeholders. If they won’t, you have a passive buyer. If a buyer asks for literature, ask them to share with you some documentation about their problem or opportunity. If they won’t, you have a passive buyer. If a buyer asks for a demo, ask them to pay for it. If a buyer asks for something, always ask for something of equal effort value in return. Passive buyers will shy away from participating in the sale and will say no more to participating than yes.
Once you find out you have a passive buyer, stop selling. You are wasting your time. Go find active buyers, they will join you on the sales journey. They want to participate. They know the more active they are in the sale, the better it is for them.
Passive buyers aren’t buyers at all. Don’t let them waste your time.