There are any number of bad traits and habits in a salesperson that can instantly turn off a prospect. One is being a poor listener. Another is being overly pushy or aggressive. Many prospects are turned off when salespeople speak about features without really understanding the prospect’s concerns.
However, there is one trait that may be more offensive than any others. It’s desperation. In my 30 years of experience as a sales leader and sales coach/consultant, I have seen firsthand that many buyers base their decisions not on the value of the solution, but rather how they feel about the salesperson. They buy you, then the company, then the solution. People want to work with people they like and respect. Often, that’s the key ingredient in any successful sale.
Desperation can taint any sales process and any relationship with a prospect. At best, it’s an annoyance for the prospect. At worst, it causes the prospect to lose respect for the salesperson. In any case, a hint of desperation may be enough to encourage a prospect to look at other vendors and solutions.
In my experience, most “desperate” salespeople don’t realize how they come across to prospects. They don’t see themselves objectively, so they don’t understand how their actions create an image of desperation.
Below are a few best practices to guide your communications with prospects. Do you follow these best practices? Or does your communication and outreach veer into desperate territory?
Accept that some prospects simply aren’t interested.
It’s a difficult fact for many salespeople to accept. Some, probably most, prospects simply won’t be interested in your solution. That’s not your fault. They may not understand the value. They may know they don’t have the budget. They may not be innovative or forward-thinking enough to understand how it applies to their challenges.
Most salespeople understand this idea. However, many don’t. Even when they’ve gotten every hint possible that a prospect isn’t interested, they continue to push for a meeting or send weekly “check-in” emails.
The result is that the prospect views the salesperson as desperate. You may think that if the prospect isn’t interested, there’s no damage done if they view you as desperate. After all, they’re not going to buy anyway, right?
Not necessarily. They may come back around in the future when they do have a need. They could refer you to friends or associates who could benefit from your service. They can still offer value in the future even if they don’t buy from you today. But that will never happen, if they lose respect for you.
Instead, take the hints. If you’re not sure whether a person is interested, ask them. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “Are you declining a meeting because the proposed time doesn’t work or because this solution isn’t a good fit at this time?” Then you’ll know where you stand and you can focus your energy on more productive efforts.
Let the prospect diagnose their own problems.
Fact-finding is a big part of any sales process. It’s your opportunity to understand your prospect’s challenges so you can tailor your pitch and your solution to them. When you hear a big challenge or red flag during fact finding, it’s tempting to jump on the issue and recommend a solution.
However, it’s important that you let the prospect understand the problem on their own. They need to be motivated to buy your solution because they understand their challenges and feel their pain.. If you immediately jump in and say, “We can help you with that!” everytime they mention a challenge, they’ll never make the connection on their own.
Even more, they may begin to feel like you’re “selling” them rather than “helping” them, and they may view your eagerness as desperation. Instead of jumping on their problems, use examples of how you’ve solved that problem with other clients, focusing on the benefits of your solution and gently guide them to connecting those benefits to their challenges.
Stick to the terms of the agreement.
We’ve all been there. You’re so close to getting a prospect to sign on the dotted line. You just need something to push them over the edge. Then you have an idea. You can offer them a discount, or give them an add-on solution as a freebie. Or you can promise them extra service outside the terms of the agreement.
We all use incentives to sell from time to time. They’re best used when a prospect has very real concerns about your solution and you want to allay those concerns. The problem is when a salesperson starts offering discounts and freebies before the prospect has even offered an objection.
Don’t offer discounts before price has become an issue. It makes you look desperate and it may even make your prospect rethink their decision. Even if they do move forward, you’ve now set a precedent for offering discounts and freebies when they’re not necessary.
Instead, stick to your agreements and your proposed solution. If the prospect has an objection, address the objection before considering amending it or offering incentives. But don’t prematurely offer a discount just to get the sale in the door.
Are you worried that your eagerness and enthusiasm might be mistaken for desperation? If so, let’s talk about it. I’m happy to consult with you, analyze your communications with prospects, and help you develop a strategy for getting better outcomes. Let’s connect today and start the conversation.
- When Women Thrive, Businesses Grow - February 23, 2017
- How to Make Meaningful Offline Connections in an Online World - December 29, 2016
- Your Prospect Has 3 Brains. Which One Are You Selling To? - November 8, 2016