Are you talking yourself out of a sale?
Michael ran a design business and believed passionately in what he did. He was versatile and so had a good base of potential clients. However, because he was foremost an artist, he struggled with the business transaction side of his work, much preferring to discuss the design and creative elements.
When a potential client was interested in engaging him, he would talk passionately and with knowledge about what was required, taking trouble to understand the requirements of the project. Although he never seemed to directly ask for the work, he often got jobs because he was so clearly a good fit and because people loved his enthusiasm and his obvious skill.
One day he did just this – he met a potential client, who liked him and his work and the project was his!
Michael should have concluded the deal, shaken hands and arranged the start of the job right then. Instead, because he couldn’t quite believe his luck, Michael continued to talk about design, previous clients, his working techniques and anything he could think of. It was during this nervous chatter, that he revealed a previous job he had worked on. His new client was familiar with it (he was in the same industry) and it turned out that he didn’t think much of the final result. To make matters worse, he knew the person who had been in charge of the project and had heard from her that the designer had been difficult to work with – rather too fussy and had missed some important deadlines.
The new client quietly made his excuses and left. Michael never heard from him again.
A hard lesson was learned.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, there are some simple things you can do:
Once the customer has definitely confirmed they want to buy, then stop talking and deal with the practicalities
In other words, sort out the payments, the order form, the invoice or whatever, and conclude the transaction.
Don’t try and fill the silence
It is human nature to try and fill uncomfortable silences with words, especially if you are nervous. Resist the urge. If you must talk about something, revert to small talk – the weather, the traffic, anything harmless and uncontroversial.
Your customer doesn’t need to know everything
If your customer has decided to buy on the basis of what you have told them already, then they don’t need to know the other 101 features of your product or service. Everyone is slightly different and what matters to one person may not matter to another, so trust that you have said enough.
It can be hard to get customers to say ‘yes’ in the first place. Don’t do all the hard work and end up losing the sale once you’ve won it.
Janet is based in Enfield, north London and trains small businesses and entrepreneurs how to sell more. She has recently reached the final of the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management’s national awards (BESMA 2016) in the category of Sales Trainer of the Year.
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