(This article addresses one of a variety of customer types Jeffrey and I will be covering in our upcoming webinar titled: “Selling to Tough Customers." Look for the invitation in next week's "Sales Caffeine" and then join us live!)
Your presentation was on target. The chemistry was there. The prospect’s reaction to you and the price both seemed positive. But when the time came for signatures, the meeting ended with the prospect's saying, "Everything sounds good, we're going to discuss it internally and get back to you."
Weeks go by. And as you fail to get a decision from them, you slowly change their status in your database from "blazing hot" to "warm" to “cool" and then finally to "whatever."
Fence-sitters are among the most frustrating "tough customer" types to deal with.
There are four types of fence-sitters -- each with a different underlying issue. They are The Internally Conflicted, The People Pleasers, The Dissatisfied, and The Future Customers Who Just Need More Time.
Here’s how to handle them:
The Internally Conflicted - With these guys, there’s an internal disagreement within the company around the buying decision. Often, they’ll try to hide this “family argument" from you. When you check in, listen for frustration in your contact’s tone and for them to refer to the team as “they" rather than “we." If you pick up these clues, your goal is to uncover the internal debate and then provide ideas, compromises, or solutions to get them all on the same page - your page.
The People Pleasers - Often, the real reason a customer leaves you in limbo is because they don’t want to deliver the bad news that they went with your competitor. These people are big time-wasters and a threat to your sales goals. You’ll know them by the way they nervously hem and haw when you ask if they’ve made a decision. Stay in touch by putting them on your ezine list and move on.
The Dissatisfied - After meeting with you and a few of your competitors, the prospect isn’t really excited about any of their options – including you. They haven’t given you a “No" yet because they’re still looking.
If you’re lucky enough to get them on the phone or get an email reply, they often give the indifferent response “yeah, we’re still considering options." There may still be opportunity with this fence-sitter type, but you haven’t provided enough value yet. The cost of your service outweighs the perceived value. Don't start shooting in the dark with a barrage of alternate options or discount lures. Find the real buying motive (the one you missed before) and get creative with your ideas.
The Future Customers Who Just Need More Time - When they said, “Sounds good" they meant it. They’re actively putting events in motion to buy from you. You’ll hear authentic excitement in their encouragement for you to hang in there. Don’t keep selling to them or push too hard for the signed contract, but keep the dialogue flowing. Ask them questions. Continue to build the relationship. Shoot them a referral. Include them on your next ezine. Be patient, helpful, and friendly.