by John Ingrisano
A few years ago, having decided to run away from the States for a while, I started a store on St. Thomas in the Caribbean that sold Jimmy Buffet shirts and other island-dream paraphernalia. I studied when to help customers and when to stand back and let the sales cycle run its course.
One thing I learned was that when a customer seemed uncertain about buying one island shirt versus another, for example, I would approach and say something like, “Two beautiful shirts, don’t you think?” Then, pointing to one, I would add, “This is one of our most popular items.” The customer almost always made the purchase and bought the one I recommended.
That’s because customers often need our help arriving at a buying decision. Whether retail or financial services or other products, assuming we have studied and understand the customers’ needs, and have identified several potential product solutions, the next step is to guide and motivate them to make a decision today. Otherwise (and we’ve all seen this), they very well may say something like, “Uh huh, very nice. I like it. Let me think it over and get back to you.” And with that, we have lost the sale, because they do not get back to us. Just as important, the prospective buyers have failed to take an action that you both know they want and/or need.
The problem is that people tend to procrastinate. They put off many decisions, sometimes just because they can. It is as simple as that. However, if you have done your homework – if they have a need/desire and you have a good solution that will meet that need and benefit them – there is absolutely no reason to defer the decision. That is because, more often than not, a decision deferred is a decision that will never be made. (Actually, it is a decision that has been made, but it is one to not take action to address the need, to solve the problem.)
That is why many successful business people phrase the call to action as an either/or decision, rather than a yes/no decision. It operates on the assumption that the decision to act has already been made, and the only thing left to do is decide which of two viable choices is the one to select.
For example, let’s say your client agrees that he needs $500,000 of additional life insurance. In your proposal, you may then put together one for whole life and another for term or a variable product. After explaining the key features of both, you ask the client, “So, which one would you like to put in force today?”
In terms of asking for an appointment, the same principle applies. Rather than asking if you can get together on Wednesday at 10:30, for example, ask, “Would Wednesday at 10:30 be good for you, or is Thursday at 1:15 better?”
Manipulative? Far from it. Our role is to present ourselves and our products and services in the most positive light. We know that what we do is valuable. Prospects may not always see it that way … until we have worked with them for a while.
If you are not sure, try this when it comes to making an appointment or asking for a buying decision: “You wouldn’t want to get together next week to talk, would you?” or “Well, that’s the product. It meets your needs and works within your budget. You wouldn’t want to buy it, would you?”
So, work hard, make money, have fun … and guide potential buyers toward a buying decision that benefits both of you. — JRI
The Freestyle Entrepreneur – winner of the 2010 Top 35 Entrepreneur Blog awards from OnLine MBA.
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