Written by: Brian Jeffrey, CSP
We've all had them - the prospect that isn't going to buy from you no matter what. It might be because he doesn't need or want whatever it is you're selling or perhaps you've rubbed him the wrong way and he simply doesn't want to buy from you. The only problem is, he won't tell you that.
The prospect generally watches while you jump through hoops trying to answer all his questions and respond to all his many objections. Then you start to run into put-offs by the number. Just when you think you've answered every possible question or concern, up pops another one, then another, then another. Sooner or later the light goes on and you realize that you're trying to talk turkey with a turkey—someone who has no intention of buying from you.
By the way, I don't use the term turkey in a derogatory sense, I simply use it as a label for someone who has no intention of doing business with me and is wasting my time. I don't know about you, but I don't seem to have an overabundance of time to waste.
For the turkey, it's not a matter of delaying the buying decision; it's a matter of not buying period. The prospect is simply using put-offs and false objections to delay the ultimate decision to not buy from you.
If you don't find this out, you may end up wasting a lot of valuable selling time with the wrong prospect or a non-prospect, as the case may be.
Go for a No
When you suspect a prospect has made the mental decision to not buy from you, "go for a no" and try to gently force the decision. As I mentioned above, this usually happens after a series of objections has been raised and answered but the prospect is still delaying the decision through put-offs. Once you suspect the prospect has no intention of buying, you could say something like this:
"Mary, I get the impression you've already decided not to go ahead with this. Am I right?"
"Bill, is it safe to assume that we're not going to be doing business together at this time?"
The worst that the prospect can say is, "Yes." Now, at least, you can get on with your life and look for someone who is a real prospect and not a PWOT (Potential Waste of Time) or a DWOT (Definite Waste of Time).
Sometimes your prospect will surprise you because there is an interesting bit of psychology at work here. When you start to move away from someone, he or she will often move towards you, from an emotional point of view. For example, when asked if he has no intention of buying, the prospect might respond with something like, "It's not that, it's just that…" and then the real reason for the delay comes out.
Not for Everyone
This technique doesn't always work because the prospect won't always tell you the truth — particularly if he's an Amiable or Expressive personality and doesn't want to hurt your feelings.
Another reason for not telling the truth is the person doesn't want to have to explain his decision. He's afraid that if he tells you he's not going to buy, you'll ask, "May I ask why?" and he'll be on the hook trying to justify his decision to you. This makes some people uncomfortable, so it's easier to simply string the salesperson along until the person goes away on his own.
On the other hand, this technique works well with the Analytical and Driver personality types who will simply tell it like it is and be quite happy to tell you why.
No Means No
While it doesn't hurt to ask why a prospect has decided to not buy from you, do so with caution. You don't want to aggravate the prospect and come across as being pushy. Assume that no means no and simply thank the prospect for the opportunity and move along.
Don't give up too easy though. As you exit stage left, let the prospect know that if he ever does decide to purchase whatever it is you're selling, you'd be delighted to hear back from him. The theory is that by making the non-sales opportunity that you just went through relatively painless for the prospect, he is more likely to come back to you when he is serious about buying.
Always leave the prospect with a pleasant taste in his or her mouth.
Use When Appropriate
This is not a technique you would use early in the sale. I don't want salespeople walking in the door and asking, "You don't want to buy this product, do you?"
This is a technique that has its time and place in the sales process. As you get towards the end of the sales process, you know it's time to buy and the prospect knows it's time to buy but if it's the prospect that's blocking forward movement, use this technique to remove the blockage or move along.
Use this technique and you'll find yourself talking turkey with people who want to talk turkey instead of people who are turkeys.
About The Author
Brian Jeffrey is President of Salesforce Assessments Ltd. His company works with sales managers who want to make the right hiring decisions and build a strong sales team. For more articles like this and your free copy of "The 8 Biggest Hiring Mistakes Sales Managers Make" go to www.SalesforceAssessments.com.