Beat customer apathy with smart sales strategies
Salespeople who know how to handle customer indifference are much more likely to bring in new business. The truth is that most prospective customers are initially indifferent or apathetic.
You know the scenario. They say that they’re satisfied with the company that they’re currently with; they like their current salesperson; they have no concerns or problems with current products and services; and they have no awareness of how our products or services can benefit them.
All selling is based on need satisfaction so if there is no need felt, there can be no sale. The old saying, “He can sell ice to an Eskimo” just doesn’t hold up. Customers must feel a need for your products and services.
The key is to help customers discover their needs even when they don’t perceive them. Here is a three-step process to deal with indifferent customers.
STEP ONE: ACKNOWLEDGE
You don’t have to agree with the indifference to acknowledge it. If the customer says that he doesn’t want to consider another supplier, you might say: “I understand and I appreciate you telling me so.”
STEP TWO: GET PERMISSION TO QUESTION
Next, get permission to spend a little time with the customer. You might say, ” Would you mind if I take a few moments to ask a few questions that you may find useful?”
STEP THREE: ASK QUESTIONS CAREFULLY
If the customer gives you permission, proceed carefully. One word of caution applies: Never take the customer’s permission as a signal to begin talking about the features and benefits of your product and services. To do so would insult the customer who a moment ago stated satisfaction with the current situation.
Instead, ask the kind of questions that create an awareness of needs by probing into facts, conditions and circumstances surrounding the customer’s current situation. Your conversation might go something like this:
You: How long have you worked with your current supplier?
Customer: “A long time, at least 15 years.”
You: “Most schools conduct a competitive bidding process at least every few years, just to make sure that they’re still getting the best value.” You might pause at this point, then add:
“How long has it been since you’ve done an apples-to-apples comparison?” If the customer shows signs of openness, you might follow with something like this:
“Please understand that I’m not trying to force a change. I’m merely interested in being fair and helping you make the best decision possible for everyone concerned.”
Does this strategy work? Nothing always works, but a practical strategy to handle customer indifference on a moments notice will help increase your odds for success when prospecting.