By Duane Tursi, CEO, Ascension Group International.
It’s a word business leaders don’t particularly enjoy hearing—yet it’s one that’s echoed often. It’s said that only a mere 10% to 15% of leads turn into full-blown sales. These numbers can be frustrating, but they provide a unique opportunity to look at your product or service through a different lens.
Not immediately winning over a potential customer can empower you to improve your pitch, refine your capabilities and offer value in ways you might not have considered otherwise. Try some of these customer-centric tips to help turn a no—or several no’s—into a resounding yes.
Ask for direct feedback.
Creating moments for customer engagement is important throughout every step of the buyer’s journey. Try to see things from their perspective and ask the right questions to understand why the potential customer said no. Is it because of budget constraints or because they don’t see its value? Are there alternative solutions that they are exploring?
When asking questions, keep them open-ended so as not to bias their responses in a specific direction. You want to see things as clearly as possible from the buyer’s perspective, so you need to create the space for them to react and respond organically. Knowing the reason(s) can provide insight into how you might adjust your pitch, scope or budget strategy to get to a quicker yes next time.
Offer alternative solutions.
While you’re not in the business of giving things away for free, providing the buyer with alternative options can eventually pay off big. One common example is providing a free (yet limited) trial of your product or service. Seeing is believing, and when someone is on the fence because they’re not clear on the value, this option can quickly help warm them up.
If a free trial is not an option for your business, can you offer flexible pricing options or bundled solutions? This could be a smaller or lower-tiered version of your solution that can still help achieve their highest priorities, or perhaps you can offer a payment plan or a subscription-based model to make your solution more affordable.
Consider sharing free resources or offering advice to help them in their business. This will build and foster a relationship with the potential customer and keep you top of mind when they’re ready to invest in your service.
Keep the conversation going.
Once the potential buyer says no, don’t underestimate the value of following up. While you want the sales team to avoid hounding them, finding ways to keep the conversation open is critical. Remember, just because someone can’t afford your service right now doesn’t mean they won’t have the means or the interest at a later date.
Ask permission to keep in touch, and use this opportunity to create thoughtful and relevant messages (you want to be remembered without being a nuisance). When you do follow up, continue clearly communicating the value of your solution.
Provide social proof.
It doesn’t matter how the buyer found you; they’re not as close to your business as you probably think. Ensure you’ve provided them with the right educational resources to help them make a truly informed decision about their potential purchase. Share helpful resources such as case studies relevant to their specific needs, customer testimonials, references and any other information showcasing how you can help them achieve their goals.
Sometimes, customers may underestimate the value they can derive from your services, so educating them on the potential impact can help them reassess their limitations.
Tap into your network.
If you’ve exhausted your options and realize that the customer genuinely can’t afford your services, connect them with options that might be more budget-friendly. In many cases, your competition can become valued partners that you can tap into during moments like this. Build relationships with other providers who can pick up the torch—and who will also return the favor. Trusted partnerships are also an excellent opportunity for collaborations and unique marketing opportunities.
Be patient, continue building a relationship with the buyer, and you may eventually win their business. Of course, it’s important to remember that not every concern can be resolved, especially as it relates to budget. Even in these cases, you can still provide value in other ways that could lead to more opportunities later.
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