by Jeffrey Gitomer
Published: August 27,2001
“Wah!” That’s the cry of the salesman when the first little thing goes wrong.
In selling, “Sales happen,” or not. The circumstances that surround selling and making the sale are, at the very least, difficult to overcome, and are often downright degrading and discouraging. How the salesperson reacts and responds to situations and barriers that customers throw up (not to be confused with puke) will determine his or her fate both in winning the sale AND in a successful sales career.
The other day, I read a story from a great new book, “The Death of 20th Century Selling,” by Dan Seidman. It described a sales manager and a salesperson being “stood up” for a sales appointment.
I thought to myself, you can look at being stood up two ways: angry or opportunistic.
The salespeople in Dan’s story were angry, grumbling and swearing. They left the prospect a voicemail from their cell phone, thought they were disconnected, and proceeded to trash the guy. The prospect heard the words that led to their ultimate demise. (I guess they weren’t listening when their mothers said, “If you have nothing nice to say about someone, say nothing.”). Get the book (and listen to your mother).
Me? I look at being stood up as an opportunity and an advantage. The prospect knows what he did, but had something else come up more important than seeing a salesperson.
He feels bad about it, will easily reschedule an appointment, and when you enter for the second time, he will immediately apologize again, and you will have the “guilt” upper hand and undivided attention.
So is this really a bad thing? It depends. It depends on your attitude.
How do you look at bad episodes and occurrences? How do you deal with the barriers to a sale? And more important, how do you react and respond to them?
Besides a “no-show,” what are the worst things that can happen to a salesperson during a sale? What are the biggest barriers or obstacles a salesperson must overcome to earn to a sale?
Here for your whining pleasure are the other 10.5 most cursed barriers to the sale, and I’ve attached a remedy or two so that you might be able to “jump” each of them. Add them to “no-show” and the whine list is complete. NOTE: I refer to each situation as “customer,” but the word “prospect” is interchangeable. I also use the “he” gender, but the “she” gender also applies. And also notice that some of these are vintage whines, meaning you’ve heard them before, but didn’t do anything about them.
1. The customer lies about price. Use phrases like “help me understand…” and “the market is currently demanding.” Don’t say, “you’re a rotten liar,” even though you know they are. Persuade with your value, not your price.
2. The customer lies about not having the money to make a purchase. Maybe they’re not the real decision maker, and his boss said no. Your fault for not starting at the top. Maybe they’re not convinced it’s “worth” the dollars. Sell the “value of use” and “profitability of ownership.” If there’s a valued need, there’s a budget.
3. The customer tries to squeeze you by playing your price against the competition’s price. Don’t fall for the oldest and worst trap in the book. If you lower, the customer will do the same to your opponent. “Squeezing” your price is defined as: eliminating your profit. Establish fair value, and sell that plus service.
4. The customer takes advantage of you and your services before purchasing. And doesn’t deliver the order. This is also known as the customer “jerking you around,” and you responding like a puppy. Make an “up-front” arrangement that services are provided in exchange for orders.
5. The customer asks for too much. Emphasize what’s “fair,” and talk about the long-term relationship where everyone must come out a winner — not just him.
6. The customer does not return your call. This one is easy — your message wasn’t worth it. No value to it. The game of selling is about wanting to buy. The biggest non-buying signal in the world is an unreturned phone call.
7. The customer calls your company, acts like a jerk and nobody wants to do business with them. OUCH. The only remedy is to bring the customer to your place of business and introduce him around. Have him bring pictures of his kids — oh, and have him also bring an apology.
8. The customer asks for a proposal and has no intention of doing business with you. Many (not all) times this can be avoided with better questions in the selling process. This barrier is not only a time waster, it’s also a frustration builder (see No. 6).
9. The customer lies about when they need delivery (they always need it yesterday). Ask about timing and circumstances around delivery. Find out if there’s a “fudge factor.” Above all be truthful about “when.”
10. The customer leads you to believe that he is the decision maker when all along they have to ask their mommy or daddy if they can buy. Instead of asking “Are you the decision maker?” ask, “How does your company make financial decisions?”
10.5 Your responses to each situation as it arises. The secret is to ask questions to get closer to the truth. By asking you develop better dialog and find out buying motives. The barrier can be overcome if the customer’s motive is uncovered and engaged. If you want to break barriers, ask three intelligent questions before you make a statement (the same rule applies for spouses and children).
Did you notice the word value everywhere? That’s because value, or perceived value, is the best way to beat price. Ask questions, don’t just blah, blah, blah. Finding out why is better than puking time worn responses. And when you find out why, you can build value.
And many of you will ask, “Which one of these barriers is the worst?”
Easy answer. The one that happens to you.
Free GitBit — Want the list of personal barriers? The ones that prevent the customer from buying? I’ve prepared top 10.5 list that will hurt, but help you. Just go to www.gitomer.com (register if you’re a first time visitor) and enter the word BARRIER in the GitBit box.
Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless.” President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts internet training programs on selling and customer service at www.trainone.com.He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail
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