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When Buyers Hesitate

Follow this advice if customers aren't jumping at the chance to purchase your product or service.

You've just invested the last 30 minutes of your day with someone who truly needs your product or service. You feel like you're on a roll-that your product is truly good for them and that they can afford it.

It began when they explained what they were looking for when you first met. They answered all your questions about their more specific needs. They listened intently to your explanations, watched your demonstration carefully, handled the product and selected the colors or sizes that would work for them. Basically, they seemed very involved and moving toward the purchase. Then the brakes went on. They just stopped. Then they started hedging, asking questions you had already answered and physically backing away either by sitting back in their chair, crossing their arms or literally leaning or stepping slightly backwards.

What happened? Something perfectly normal.

Few people get so excited about a product or service that they just whip out their checkbooks or credit cards and say, "Let me have it!" Yes, it does happen at times and with certain products that are prone to impulse sales. However, it's not the typical situation you'll encounter.

When people get excited about owning something new, little voices start talking in their heads. I don't mean that they have any kind of mental issues. They're just typical. They've been told ever since they were little to "think twice before making decisions" and "never sign on the dotted line unless you're absolutely sure of what you're getting into." They might even flash back to a bad past experience when they made a poor buying decision and lost either money or face. When that happens, they have nasty old Mr. Fear creep into their psyches and cause them to freeze like deer in the headlights, not knowing what to do or where to go.

Their hesitation might turn into an outright objection to the product. This may seem irrational to you since they were so excited about it a moment ago. But now we're getting close to the real answer. Rational vs. irrational. Emotion vs. logic. Buying is not done logically. It's an emotional decision that's made, then rationalized. When the brakes come on, rationalization hasn't happened. It's your job to help them rationalize any buying decision.

The rationalization is that the amount of money you're asking for your product or service equals or outweighs the discomfort they're feeling by not owning it. In other words, they have to come to terms with feeling better with the product than having the money in their bank accounts. People are very emotionally tied to their money. It may be the strongest bond other than the deep emotional bond between spouses or parents and children.

Rather than psychologically prying the money out of their hands, you must learn to nudge, prod and lead them to the decision that you and they truly believe is good for them. Try these two simple lines: "Obviously, you have a reason for hesitating. Would you mind sharing it with me?" If you deliver these two sentences warmly and with sincerity, they'll tell you exactly why they're hesitant, and you'll have something to move forward with. It could be a number of things. Usually, it's the money. Sometimes, it's an issue with color or measurements or time. They might start thinking they don't have to make the decision today now that they know the right source for the product they want. The point is you can't address the cause of the hesitation until you know what it is. And that little question will lead you to the answer.

Tom Hopkins is world-renowned as "the builder of sales champions." For the past 30 years, he's provided superior sales training through his company, Tom Hopkins International.

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