“So one trigger to understand is this person worth my time? Are they sharing information or am I giving it all?” –Aaron Prickel, Vice-president/Owner at Lushin
It’s happened to all of us. You pitched a deal to a prospective customer and they seemed so excited about the project. “Yes, Mr. Jones. I just need to run this project by my boss, and then we’re good to go.”
Before you know it, three weeks have passed and not only have they not gotten permission, but they are avoiding your phone calls.
Chasing after customers who won’t commit is not only demoralizing, but it can hurt your bottom line. For every lead you keep chasing and chasing, there are other leads that you could be pursuing. So how do you recognize the signs that a customer is not yet ready to commit?
Aaron Prickel addressed Smartups on June 17th about how you can tell if a potential buyer is going to progress or not. It came down to two simple concepts:
1. Are they sharing information?
2. Will they commit to an action?
Selling is a two-way street. Every day you give your prospects information on your products, industry, methods, and more. The key is to make sure you’re not the only one sharing information.
Start by asking your clients simple questions like what is your problem? What type of solution are you looking for? Who are the key decision-makers? Is our solution in your budget? Are you under contract with another vendor and if so, when is that contract up?
These questions are only the beginning. Sales trainer John Barrows recommended eight questions to ask potential buyers. One of them was, “Are you ok with telling me no?” He said, “No one likes telling anyone no which is why many times clients don’t even call us back towards the end of the process. If you get it out of the way upfront and let them know you are cool with them telling you ‘no’ then they are more likely to stop the process sooner with you if you really aren’t the right fit.”
By asking your prospects questions, you can determine if your solution is a right fit for them in terms of budget or resources. Or maybe you’ll find they don’t have the budget now or they’re already with a vendor, but that things could change in six months. So now you know to put them on hold, but to check up in a few months.
Once your client has shared information with you, you can test their willingness to do business by committing them to an action.
Committing them to action
Aaron spoke about getting your clients to do an action for you.
They have to do something that’s a behavior…It doesn’t take a lot of effort to say, “Yes, I will do business with you.” But if you go, “Hey, I need you to send me this information about this, this, and this so I can put something together,” if that action doesn’t hold true then that’s also my other trigger to say I may be wasting time with somebody who I shouldn’t be spending time with.
Another term for getting your prospects to do something is called giving them a call to action. Call to actions are all over the internet, in e-mails, and in print advertising. It’s marketers inviting customers to do something whether it’s to purchase something, call the business, or ask for more information.
Salespeople should also give their prospects call to actions to move them along in the sales funnel and give them a decision, to choose yes or no. As they make smaller decisions, it helps them close on the larger decision at the end of the process. If they balk at doing the smaller things, it likely means they’ll struggle with bigger decisions.
Knowing when to keep working with a prospect, put them on pause, or cut them loose is important for your startup. You need to focus your resources on things that will make you money, even if your ego takes a hit as you realize that some of your prospects just aren’t that into you. (And it’s better to know that now instead of later).