After you make the sale, will the customer still be there?
Published: April 11,2005
Here’s a note for help from a reader:
I need some advice on an “almost” customer. After the third presentation, the customer verbally committed to purchasing my product; however, he sent this e-mail message after our last meeting: “We are considering your product.”
I’m not sure if a humorous response is appropriate.
What should I do next?
Thanks so much,
And here’s my response:
The backpedaling tool is frequently pulled from the customer’s “buying” toolbox. Often referred to in retail as “buyer’s remorse,” backpedaling basically deals with second thoughts.
You’re lucky. At least the guy responded.
You made your sale emotionally, but when the customer tried to justify it logically, he couldn’t. Your presentation did not include any sound, logical reasons to buy.
Although you thought there was a verbal commitment, the customer responded to your failure to complete the sale. It sounds like you did not execute sales 101 action: cement the commitment. Cementing the commitment includes nailing down a delivery date, nailing down financing, nailing down who will use the product, and setting up internal meetings to ensure maximum productivity is achieved. This solidifies the sale — and the payment.
But instead, Ms. Sales Genius, you said to yourself: “Oh joy, oh joy, the customer committed to buy. I can leave now.”
You, Ms. Sales Genius, took the customer’s word as gospel, when in fact, in his mind — there was NO firm commitment — just a MAYBE. And you, Ms. Sales Genius, were too slow in responding to what you perceived as a commitment.
Your customer’s response tells me that your competition came in and made a similar presentation, so your “almost” customer could not differentiate between you and your competition. Therefore, the customer is backpedaling. And now you are looking for the answer.
The good news is: you won’t do that again. The bad news is: you have to start over. Make another appointment with your “almost” customer, and make certain that any other influencers or deciders will be there. When you enter the room, act as if it’s the first time you’re meeting (start from square one). Do not start talking about “you,” until you have asked at least 10 questions about “them.” Questions about previous history, expected outcomes, where the profit pockets are, their overall impression of your product, and how they have used your product in the past.
Once you have this information, you can begin to share YOUR information — including your name.
The way you start gains interest.
The way you present builds belief. The way you end gains commitment.
The way you solidify the next action determines the strength of your capability, and their level of commitment.
If the sale falls apart AFTER the customer makes (or you thought was) a commitment, this is a reflection on you — not on the customer.
You have to start over because you never convinced the customer that the reward of purchase outweighed the risk of deciding “yes.” You have to bring the customer back to the reasons for buying in the first place.
Here are the personal rules to follow when a sale falls apart:
1. No shortcuts.
2. No complaining.
2.5 No blaming others
When the customer backs out of a deal, it’s crucial to understand who’s at fault. Then, and ONLY then, do you have a real opportunity to recapture the sale.
Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible,” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless,” is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail
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