As every salesperson knows, there are “easy” sales and there are “tough” sales. When a sales prospect becomes a buying customer, all’s right with the world and everyone’s happy. When a prospect turns out to be difficult, it takes a combination of skill, experience and initiative to convert that tough prospect into a final sale.
What makes some prospects resistant to a typical sales strategy?
Insufficient knowledge of your product or service.
Prospects may resist your pitch, simply because they don’t understand how what you sell offers a solution to their problems.
They are skeptical by nature.
Some prospects just don’t like sales reps in general, and are therefore inclined to be skeptical, regardless of what you tell them.
A negative past experience.
A prospect who once used your product or service and came away dissatisfied will naturally resist a new sales pitch.
How to Change a Doubting Prospect Into a Happy Customer
First, demonstrate how your product offers value. Every aspect of your initial sales pitch must answer the prospect’s one overriding question: “How is meeting with you (the sales rep) going to be worth my valuable time?”
Smart salespeople always enter a meeting fully prepared. They’ve done the research — not just about the prospect’s company, but about his or her industry. What trends are worth noting? What special challenges does the target company face? Skeptical prospects will be pleasantly surprised by your knowledge of their world.
Key Qualities for Successful Sales
Demonstrating initiative in the face of a tough sale requires certain key attributes:
- Salespeople must know how to be assertive, but not aggressive (establishing next steps after the initial meeting, for example).
- They must possess self-awareness, knowing how they’ll respond in a difficult situation, what negative emotions to watch out for, and how to emphasize the positive in any customer interaction.
- Even difficult customers want to know if you can provide a solution to their problem. Build a relationship by demonstrating how you can empathize with their challenge, describe a clear-cut, viable answer to the problem, help them visualize a future where this obstacle has been surmounted, and walk them through the process of reaching that desired outcome (through the use of your product).
Doing what comes naturally (or learning to be “natural”).
While it’s true some individuals are born salespeople, the vast majority of successful sales reps have put in countless hours of learning and training to get where they are today. Here are ways to cope with difficult prospects that either come naturally to you or can be incorporated into your sales skill-set.
Have a thick skin.
Regardless of how much a prospect complains about your company (or even the way you’ve framed your sales pitch), the best response is to stay cool. Resist taking any comments personally, focusing instead on calmly delivering persuasive facts and demonstrating your ability to remain cool under pressure.
Practice active listening.
Difficult sales prospects will let you know how to meet and overcome their objectives, if you listen closely enough.
Know when to bow out gracefully.
If all else fails, politely end the conversation with a sincere offer to help again in the future. Make sure even an ill-fated sales meeting ends on a positive note.
Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to come up with solutions to tough sales situations. Take a look at more of our online resources for additional tips to improve your sales process and achieve rapid, sustainable and dynamic sales revenue growth.