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3 Deal-Killing Strategies That Make Your Customers Walk Away Developing a strategy that is customer-centric will help you close the deal.

By Jeff Shore Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Check-up time. Park your ego outside, be honest and take some time to determine if your sales presentation suffers from any of these deal-killing strategies.

1. Forcing your customer to take the lead

There is a very common question that gets asked in the sales world. And it drives customers up the flippin' wall. The question? "How can I help you?"

The request sounds innocent enough -- almost friendly. But think of the implications. We are asking the customer to take the lead and describe both the situation and the solution.

Yep, nothing like saying to a customer, "You go first. I'd sure appreciate it if you would tell me how to do my job. It'll make things so much easier on me."

"How can I help you"? The question is about the salesperson more than it is about the customer. And if the customer can identify both the problem and the solution, what use is there for a salesperson?

Instead, open the conversation in a manner that takes you out of the picture entirely. Try these early discover questions instead:

  • "What got you thinking it might be time to look for a new _______?"
  • "What's not working for you now?"
  • "Why are you thinking about purchasing a _______?"

Get the customer to offer the problem. Then and only then should you move on to the solution.

2. Talking about price and terms early in the conversation

People buy from the emotional side of their brain. Daniel Khaneman, founder of behavioral economics, suggests that, "When we take away emotional impulse, people make poorer decisions." This is not to say that a purchase decision is entirely emotional, but rather that the emotional impulse is typically stronger than the analytical.

When we talk about price and terms (logical elements) too early in the process we are luring people into the analytical side of their brain. We are asking them to think of the details before there's an emotional connection in place.

The proper strategy? Defer that conversation. Even if a customer asks early in the process, find a way to shelve the subject until later on.

"Great question, and I definitely want to talk about how we can make it easy for you to buy. Let's find what you're looking for first, and then we can talk about the exact terms. Fair enough?"

Just keep this rule-of-thumb in mind: The earlier in the process you talk about price, the less likely it is you will get the sale.

3. Saving the ask for the end of the process

The demise of too many sales presentations is the complete abandonment of agreement questions until the very end of the process. Nothing is more mentally trying on a prospect than to load all the agreements into one humongous final close.

Here's why: Your customer is making decisions throughout the process, whether they're prodded to do so or not. The difference is whether the decision is passive or active.

The buying brain is continually making subconscious decisions about the product, the features, the terms, the level of trust, etc. Prospects are making these decisions without even being aware of it. Psychologists refer to these as "reflexive brain" decisions. If we are only asking one final closing question (rather than agreement questions throughout the process) we're putting the customer in an impossible position. That customer must assemble all the subconscious decisions into one huge final decision. Does that sound mentally taxing to anyone besides me?

By the way, that very customer is likely to respond with the old, "I want to think about it." And that makes sense -- the decisions that they made were subconscious; they really have no idea where they stand in this process.

When we ask agreement questions throughout the process we engage the customer's active brain, their reflective brain. The customer becomes aware that they are moving closer to a purchase as they engage in a decision-making rhythm. When it is time to ask for the sale, the customer simply thinks back to all the conscious decisions they have made. Then the answer is obvious.

So how did you do? What can you work on? How can you better serve your customer?

Get your head on straight, my friends. Develop a strategy that is customer-centric. Then you can change your customer's world.

Jeff Shore

Entrepreneur, Sales Expert and Author; Founder of Shore Consulting

Jeff Shore, of Shore Consulting, is a sought-after sales expert, speaker, author and consultant whose latest book, Be Bold and Win the Sale: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone and Boost Your Performance, was published by McGraw-Hill Professional in January 2014.

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