How to close a deal when customers drag their feet

Have a customer who would rather keep toying with you instead of making a deal? Try using these 3 tips.

3 Ways to Turn the Tables on Your Customer

When it comes to sales, there are certain customers who will do whatever it takes to delay closing the deal. It’s quite odd. In the beginning, they love your company and give you the verbal commitment. You have a few more meetings and they’re ready to get started. All a sudden you find yourself in their office heading back to square one. “Can we talk about price again?” “I still don’t understand this.” “Tell me more about your features.”

This will not only drive you insane, but it also wastes your time. Understand that I’m not saying you shouldn’t answer your customer’s questions. My point is that some buyers will ask you questions they know the answer to just to delay a decision. This is when you need to move away from your typical sales strategy.

Standard protocol is to find out the customer’s pain point, pitch the solution, and go in for the close. While this can be effective, one of the downfalls is you can appear needy. This gives all the power to the purchaser, making it his decision to decide how the game is played. He can take as long as he wants, use your time up, and he calls the shots. This can be ok when the purchaser is paying you, but you’re not there yet. In this game, the more you look desperate the more power you give away.

I remember one sales meeting where the customer had every excuse why they weren’t ready to sign. “I still need time to absorb this.” “I don’t want to rush into something big.” “There’s no rush to get this done on our end.” And then he started hitting me with the questions we had gone over in our first meeting. Going through this, I decided it’d be better to lose business than to waste moments of my life sitting through this torture. I had had enough. So, out of nowhere I interrupted the client and closed the deal using a few techniques that are the opposite of what they teach you in sales.

When used right, they continue to work for me. Next time you’re in a similar situation, try using these tips to lock down deals that are dragging along.

1. I dictated the end time of the meeting

First, I interrupted the buyer I told him that I had several sales meetings to go to and we had to start wrapping things up. This is not what they teach you in conventional sales.

Most strategies put focus on the time invested into the relationship. The more time you spend with the purchaser, the higher the chances you close the deal. While this makes sense in theory, for customers who are trying to stall more time doesn’t mean success. Instead, you want the client to know that you are speaking to other buyers and your time is valuable. When I said we needed to start coming to a close so I could talk to my next purchaser, there was a shift in the meeting. All a sudden, I was dictating time and not the customer. This stunned the buyer, and he now became more focused and a little tense.

2. I flipped the questions around

As I’m getting up to leave, the purchaser became a little flustered but kept trying to ask me more questions we’d been over. He still wanted me to keep trying to sell him, so he could hold the upper hand. This time though, I was ready.

As he began to start his next question, I interrupted again. “I want to spend the last few minutes together finding out more information about you and your company.” Now I definitely had his attention. “You see, we’re trying to be selective on which customers we work with, and I just want to make sure you’re a good fit.” After that, I started asking questions about why they would be good for us. In my head, I was thinking that this might cost me the deal. In reality, I found the client completely switched attitudes towards me. It was like he was applying for a job, and now he was pitching his company to me. It no longer became when he was comfortable becoming my client, it turned into IF he could become my client. This ended the stalling questions, and now was the opportunity to finish this meeting strong.

3. I applied pressure by saying there was no pressure

At the end of my questions, I got up to leave but had one more statement to make. “Listen, I think we’d be a great fit for each other, but if our values don’t align maybe it’s not a good time to partner.” The buyer was stunned. In a matter of minutes, he had gone from being the prize to now holding no power of me. In my heart, I really wanted this man’s business, but I knew with this type of customer I had to able to walk away. After I said this, the client looked me and said, “No no I think our companies would be a good fit.” I responded with “OK, shoot me over the signed contract and I’ll talk it over with my team.”

When you have customers who are toying with you, you need to show them that you have no problem walking away. There’s a time where you’ve got to stand strong to get a deal done. When your customer knows you can live without his business, it’ll change the environment in your favor. This is going to be scary for you to try at first, but if used properly it will help you close stubborn customers.

When I tried it with this customer, I was completely scared of what would happen next. The following morning I checked my email, only to find a signed contract from the customer and an urgency to get my signature. Looks like the tables had turned.

Originally posted on by AJ Agrawal on November 22, 2014.

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