Back to Buy from You
It happens. You’ve spent quality time
with prospective clients discussing ideas
about a system for their home, and despite
your impressive expertise, experience,
and winning personality, they tell
you that they still want to shop around
before making their decision. While this
may be deflating to hear, be aware that
this is a pivotal point in the sales process,
and your course of action at this moment
can be every bit as important as all the
time spent leading up to it.
Volumes have been written on “overcoming
objections,” and I’m not suggesting
that you simply throw up your hands
and give up. But there are cases where
the customer sincerely wants to explore
other options before making their decision.
For these scenarios, here are some
proven strategies to help ensure that they
come back to you when it’s time to buy.
Let your potential customers find out for themselves that your competitors don’t stack up to you.
1 Don’t Say It, Prove It. Naturally, you will be eager to convey that
you are the right choice for potential client. You should, however,
avoid hollow proclamations like “We’re the best!” Really? Who says
so? You? Here’s a bulletin: every business on the planet makes the same
claim, so these types of statements don’t carry much weight. Instead,
references and written testimonials from satisfied customers offer much
more credibility, because now it is other people praising you, not you
2 Take the High Road. When customers tell you they want to shop
around, they know it’s probably not what you want to hear, and might
expect this situation to reveal your true colors. They may be waiting for
“Mr. Nice Guy” to disappear and for you to become defensive, resentful,
or even confrontational. After all, lots of salespeople fulfill this expectation
The winning move is to do something many customers might not expect:
accept their decision and commend them for being wise consumers.
Keep in mind that they simply want to review different options and make
an educated decision before spending a lot of money. So rather than begrudging
them for “wasting your time,” earn their gratitude by becoming
their advocate and arming them with key information to help them make
an informed decision.
Remaining friendly and helpful during this potentially awkward situation
speaks volumes about you, and leaves a powerful final impression
with the customer. Essentially, you are setting the bar that others will have
to clear before winning their business.
3 No Bashing. While you probably feel that your products and services
are superior to those of your competition, avoid the temptation to disparage
the other guys to make yourself look better. Also, forget “scare
tactics”–ominously implying that choosing someone
else could lead to disaster. This type of approach
looks petty and only reflects poorly on you. Research
has proven that customers react negatively to these
tactics, and while they probably won’t tell you so, it’s
a turn-off to them and could cost you the sale.
This does not mean that you can’t alert the customer
to potential pitfalls that could result from buying
elsewhere; the key is to do so in a way that customers
will see as being helpful, not resentful.
4 Ask, Don’t Tell. How you articulate your point
can make a big difference in how you are perceived,
and a smart move is to use gentle questions instead of bold statements to shed light on important considerations. Making proclamations
about a competitor—even if true—may appear adversarial and
could provoke a defensive reaction from the customer. Furthermore, you
might be wrong, which makes you look even worse. Approaching the issue
using questions can appear less forceful and more helpful.
For instance, suppose a customer
tells you they’re researching equipment
prices on certain websites. Your instinct
may be to respond with comments like,
“They don’t have an exchange policy.
You could get stuck with a bad product.”
Understand that statements like this can
create an awkward dynamic because the
customer may feel like you’re challenging
him instead of being supportive. Alternatively,
addressing the issue by using questions
strikes the right chord. For instance,
asking, “Have you inquired about their
exchange policies in case the unit is defective? You’d hate to be stuck with
a product that doesn’t operate properly.” This gets your point across while
still remaining their advocate, not their adversary.
5 Planting Seeds of Doubt. Another effective strategy lies in knowing
what products, services, or policies really distinguish you from your competition,
and then giving the customer a “homework assignment” centered
on these unique benefits. This is called “planting seeds of doubt,”
and the process entails three important steps:
■ Explain a unique, distinct benefit that you offer and others don’t
■ Explain why this is important to the customer, and how it provides value
■ Have the customer ask the competition if they offer the same benefit.
For instance, perhaps a competitor
uses subcontractors for their installation
work, which can create unpredictable results.
Tell your customer how all of your
installation work is done by your own employees
and not third-party contractors.
Be sure to explain why this is beneficial
and how the customer can derive peace
of mind knowing that all the work is being
done by highly qualified members of your
own staff. Lastly, suggest that they ask the
competition whether they offer this benefit.
When competitors can’t make the
same claim, it reflects positively on you.
Don’t shortcut the process by simply telling the customer what the
other guys do wrong. That’s bashing, and it’s a bad idea. Instead, this
strategy focuses on what you do right, and lets the customers find out for
themselves that others don’t stack up to you.
Cross-shoppers are a fact of life in our industry, but employing the right
attitude and strategies will certainly give you the upper hand.