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In the first installment of this 4 part series, I discussed the importance of focusing on the needs of the prospective customer.  Today I want to talk about providing clarity in order to help potential customers make a decision.

One of the problems with potential buyers is that they are usually polite (which means they won’t let you know how they really feel about what you’re saying) and that they don’t always share their needs freely. In addition, cost may be an issue that they are not very transparent about.

There’s an old saying in sales that is as true now as ever:

“A ‘YES’ or a ‘NO’ is ALWAYS better than a ‘MAYBE!’” And ‘MAYBE’ is often caused by:

1) Vagueness (either in your presentation or the buyer not being sure of his/her ultimate goal)

2) A polite way of saying ‘NO’ without hurting your feelings

3) Very possibly the need for time to reflect on the conversation and possibly get other proposals

You can’t do much about #2 if their answer really is no, particularly if you’re not necessarily the best fit for them, other than to get them to state it, and #3 is a fair reason for the buyer to hesitate. But #1 is an area that you do have some control over, which means that you need to promote CLARITY

For an example of how clarity works, let’s use an activity that we can all relate to such as going out to a restaurant for dinner:  How many times have gone out for dinner with only a rough idea of what you want to eat and perhaps only with a budget in mind.

–  You arrive at the restaurant, the server immediately upsells you to an alcoholic beverage (high profit margin for the restaurant and increases the server’s potential tip)

–  The server gives you a menu that has really good looking food (generally better than it ever does in person),

–  And when asked, the server explains what’s included with the entrée, and may even give suggestions about which entrees he/she really likes.

The restaurant has created a process, in advance, of crafting your experience from the moment you walk through the door to the end of your dessert, and the smart ones even capture your birthday so they can send you a coupon for a free mail later. In the end, that pre-planned process has subliminally prepared you to make a decision based on your emotional responses to their stimulus – without ever asking you if you want to close the deal!!

So how do we apply that to our sales situations?  Apply it by using a combination of “Active Listening” and storytelling. We’ll address these in the next sales strategy installment.