Customer Experience News & Trends

Selling to 3 most difficult types of customers

If you can crack these three tough nuts, you’ll be a step ahead of the competitors who probably gave up long ago.

1. Hard-to-read. Most salespeople would place hard-to-read prospects in the most difficult category. They give no feedback, so it’s hard to know what they’re thinking. Some salespeople attempt to get a non-responsive prospect to open up by talking more.
If the prospect is holding back for a specific reason, this can backfire. Here are five strategies to get these prospects to open up:

  • Let them know early that they have total control of the call. You can do this simply by asking what issue they would like to address. You can reduce the chances of the prospect clamming up by having them do most of the talking.
  • Ask an open-ended question and then say nothing. The silence may motivate the prospect to supply the feedback you need. Really listen to the answers. Prospects usually find it flattering to state their opinions and have someone listen to them.
  • Get them to talk — about anything. If prospects seem reluctant to talk about their business needs, they may have a reason. Encouraging them to talk about nonbusiness subjects may get them to open up.
  • Make the call more interesting for the prospect. Salespeople have to face the fact that some prospects may find their presentations boring. You can add interest through proper planning.
  • Try to find out why the prospect isn’t communicating. Some prospects think a poker face is a good negotiating tool. Others may not know much about your product or service and are afraid of looking stupid. A good way to handle this situation is to encourage objections and negative feedback.

2. No buying authority. Prospects who meet with salespeople frequently have no buying authority. They are information gatherers who channel data to the people who do the purchasing. Thinking of them as insignificant obstacles or going over their heads can backfire on a salesperson. The support of these non-buyers may play a key role in closing the sale. Try to get them to admit that they’re not the decision maker. Once this admission is made, the goal shifts from your selling the person in the room directly to selling the real decision-maker with the help of that person.

3. Indecision. An insecure customer is usually an indecisive customer. Insecure customers need more attention than regular customers. There are times when every prospect is insecure – the company might be coming off a bad quarter or a bad year.
Some people have difficulty making decisions even when they know they’re the right ones. That’s what makes indecisive prospects frustrating to deal with. Your job is to help them make the decision. For some indecisive prospects, the harder you push, the harder they will resist. It may be better to stop pushing and start asking questions. It’s usually a good idea to build trust and then ask for the order.

Adapted from Presentations That Change Minds, by Josh Gordon.

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