To make a sale, you have to find a fit between the prospect and the product or service you're selling. Sometimes, though, the sale just isn't happening--even when the fit is there. Next time you experience prospect hesitance or outright rejection, use the following four tips to turn the relationship around.
1. Get them to like you.
Early in my career, I held a junior role on a negotiating team, and when I asked the senior negotiator what I should do, his answer was "Get them to like you." Similarly, Donald Trump once said that people don't do deals with people they don't like. It's common sense, but the way you dress, interact with the prospect, and ask questions can all impact your likability--and therefore affect the sale. Being likable doesn't mean constantly telling jokes or showering the prospect with compliments. A better way to increase your likability is to quickly seek common ground. What interests, attitudes, or beliefs do you and the prospect have in common? Find your commonalities up front, and the prospect will be more amenable to hearing about your offering.
2. Show that they can trust you.
Likability is important, but it's trumped by trust. Prospects will have a hard time dealing with someone they don't feel they can put their faith in. Look for every opportunity to demonstrate your reliability. Do you keep your word? Are you on time? Any action or inaction on your part that that points to your unreliability or untrustworthiness will damage your chances of closing a sale. Conversely, reputation for dependability will build customer confidence and keep the sales coming in. Make a conscious effort to build trust and keep it without fail.
3. Show that you care about them.
If a customer thinks you don't actually care about their interests, forget asking for the order. It won't happen. They will suspect you are putting your needs before theirs. There are countless ways to show you care, including simple sincerity and honesty, but one sure-fire method is to seek out a gift that makes the prospect's daily business life a bit easier. I once had a group of customers who all used lead pencils for marking up drawings, but none had very good ones. I did some research and found the best lead pencils for this task, then gave out boxes of them. As simple and inexpensive as this gesture was, it was a huge success. (Another tip: when you give a gift, be sure to tell the prospect why you picked it and why you think they will like it--in essence, you need to "sell' the gift, showing that you were thinking about them.)
4. Demonstrate your expertise.
If you're not knowledgeable in the product or service you're selling, you will have a hard time winning over prospects. This takes study and training, but if a prospect senses a lack of knowledge on your part, you instantly lower your chances of making a sale. Early in my career, I went on a sales call without fully understanding my product, and I've never forgotten my first prospect's comment: "You don't know your product. Does your company expect me to train you?" It's a lesson I never forgot.
Keep these four dynamics in mind as you seek to turn hesitant prospects into happy buyers. Deploy them well and you'll watch the sales roll in!