Sales reps dream of the day when a buyer calls up, saying that the current vendor has dropped the ball for the last time, and they need something now. What could go wrong? After all, the buyer came to you; how can this possibly go badly?
Well, lots. Are all prospects good prospects? For example, maybe the buyer’s expectations are completely out of touch with reality. Which means you’ll end up being the latest in a long line of vendors who “dropped the ball” and get sent packing.
Look, we all need business. But considering all the time and energy you spend to develop an account, you need to be careful about the business you take on. Sometimes it makes sense for you to get “cold feet” about taking on a new account.
You know why buyers get cold feet. They’re scared – so they slam on the brakes. Well, they’re right to be scared. A lot’s on the line. And guess what? There’s a lot on the line for the seller, too. Your time and energy. Your reputation. Your long-term success.
So if the deal isn’t right, it’s perfectly okay for you, the seller, to put on the brakes. That doesn’t mean walking away from the sale. It means calling a time out — sending the message that you won’t go forward until YOU’RE comfortable that you are aligning with buyer expectations.
Think of this as the Reverse Cold Feet technique. It acts as a wake-up call to buyers even when they’d rather avoid the tough issues. Yet it’s unlikely to put the sale at risk.
Why? Because it’s not confrontational. You’re not issuing an ultimatum. You’re simply saying, “Not yet.” And a buyer who wants to move forward will want to remove the obstacles — just like you would if a buyer got cold feet.
Here are the steps in the Reverse Cold Feet Technique:
When you feel expectations are out of whack, call a time out.
Frame your concern around your need to make the buyer a success
Create a project plan that spells out what you expect from the buyer, and what the buyer can expect from you.
Get the buyer to sign off on these commitments – and sign off yourself.
This technique forces an over-optimistic buyer to take a hard look at what needs to happen to ensure success, and to commit to making it happen.
Timing is critical when you use the Reverse Cold Feet technique. You must bring your buyer’s expectations in line before you close the sale. After you’ve agreed to the deal, it’s going to be up to you to meet your buyer’s expectations, whether those expectations are realistic or not. And if you try to “manage expectations” after you’ve said yes, your explanations are going to sound like excuses.
This is a guest post from Michael Boyette, the executive editor of the Rapid Learning Institute Selling Essentials elearning site and editor of the Top Sales Dog Blog. He’s also managed marketing and PR programs for DuPont, Tyco Electronics, and US Healthcare. Contact Michael via email at email@example.com or connect via Twitter @TopSalesDog