“So,” continued Melinda on the phone, “would it be fair to say that it’s over.”
“I think so,” respond Beth. “But I want you to know that I really appreciate the fact you’ve been so diligent in getting back to me the past month.”
“This may sound like a dumb thing to ask, but I just want to be clear . . .” she waited for a response.
“Go ahead, it probably isn’t dumb.”
“You and I are not going to do any business, correct?”
“Not now,” said Beth, “but in the future we will definitely consider you again.”
“Understand. Can I ask you one more dumb question?”
“Knowing that we aren’t going to do business, why did you ever consider us?”
Melinda planned on waiting for a response however long it took. It took a good 15 seconds.
“Well, I don’t think I ever told you why I called to begin with . . . you were recommended by John Tate over at Carrier Corporation. He couldn't say enough about you.”
“That’s interesting; I’ll have to thank him. But now there’s a problem . . . maybe you could suggest how I deal with it.”
“Well, this is kind of embarrassing for me . . . I’m going to call John, thank him, and then he’s probably going to ask me what happened. What do I tell him?”
Another 15 seconds of silence ensued. “Well, it seemed that we needed better terms with your company than you could give; I don’t suppose you could help us out with that.”
“By better terms, you mean . . .”
“Well, on the large orders like we talked about, if somehow we could
have . . .”
Melinda turned this “no” decision into a situation where the prospect is reconsidering. In addition, she learned that the payment plan had to be more flexible. Whether this prospect can be accommodated is something Melinda’s company will have to decide. Melinda turned a “no” into a “Let’s work on it.”
Why do many salespeople bail out when a prospect says that the sale is not going to happen? One reason is that many salespeople expect, before the call is even made, that the prospect will end it. “I call any 10 prospects and nine of them are a waste of time. Nine times out of 10 I lose.”
So they gear themselves up to not succeed. They expect not to succeed. It’s now a lot easier, when the call is headed toward “no interest,” to give up. They know what the prospect is going to say, and they know what they are going to say. Both are following the “no interest” script. Both are comfortable in their respective roles.
Is there any reason why salespeople should act out their role in the script that leads them to give up? Why can’t a salesperson rewrite the script?
Because the original script is the way it is? Because that’s what you’ve been doing in the past? Because it’s easier to give up than try something different? Because that’s what the prospect expects you to do and who are you to disappoint the prospect?
None of these reasons seem valid, especially if the salesperson wants to go to the bank.
Who should make the decision to end it? The prospect or the salesperson? If you let the prospect make it, you bailed out, and worst of all, you know that. If you make the decision to end it, you leave without any doubts in your mind. That’s a much healthier mental attitude to go away with.
If the prospect figures that the pressure for her to make a buying decision is over, just about any question you ask her at that point will be answered. Once she makes that “no” decision, she’s relieved. Once you seem to accept the “no” decision, she’s even more relieved. “Thank God that’s over with.”
Yes, it may be over. No matter what you do now, you won’t make the sale. But you need to try one last time so that the “end it” decision is yours.
“Why did you ever consider us?” you ask.
As you saw in the story, the prospect began reciting all of the reasons why she should be doing business with the salesperson. Isn’t that what you want?
You have nothing to lose by asking a prospect, who has told you “No, thanks,” to give you one more chance to get back in and do business.