November 10, 2008

Always give the customer a chance to say No!

The golden rule always was 'don't give the customer a chance to say NO'. That is don't ask any questions that could result in a 'NO' answer and consequently sabotage your sale.

For example, don't ask the customer 'is this something that you might be interested in' if there is a chance he/she could say 'NO'. The logic was keep listing the benefits, the features and with persistence and charm you will eventually get the sale.

Now, if you are selling door to door, or over the phone that logic is fine. But, if you are selling complex or high value B2B solutions you will want to hear a 'No' as much as you will want to hear a 'Yes '. That is because the nature of the answer is irrelevant in terms of prequalification and consultative selling.

With sales cycles lasting months, you had better find out as early as possible if what you have could be of interest to the customer. If it is not, then either you need to go back to the drawing board and find another solution, or go back to your prospect list and find another potential customer.

Getting a 'NO' in week 2 is much better than getting it in week 22, after multiple futile sales calls, presentations and even a proposal. Your sales time is precious so make it easy for the customer to tell you if you are wasting your time, or at least going in the wrong direction.

Here are some of the questions you want to ask, regardless of whether the answer is YES, or NO:

· - I am not sure if this is something that you might be interested in?

· Is now a good time to talk?

· Is this the right time for you to consider this option?

· Is this a priority for your business at this time?

· Do you have a budget for this?

· Do you have decision making responsibility for this?

· Is there a reason why you are talking to us, given that you have been a customer of our competitor for so long?

If 'NO' is the answer then how will it help you advance your sales process, or does it suggest that your sales efforts would be better invested elsewhere.

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