By Kevin Cundiff, VP of Retail for Fortegra
In sales, we’re told early and often never to take ‘no’ for an answer. But in practice, we all know it’s not that simple. Overcoming objections is one thing; ignoring what your customers are saying is just bad business.
This challenge means customer service professionals walk a tightrope every day. They need to make the sale, but if they approach a sale too aggressively the customer’s experience will suffer. And since 70 percent of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated, a careful approach is critical.
Today’s information-driven world has changed the game, too. Sales staff also need to be prepared to dazzle (and sometimes debate) customers who are savvy, informed and armed with extensive pre-purchase research before setting foot in the store.
The good news? The right strategy can help you minimize these challenges and eliminate ‘no’ from the sale. It’s all a matter of controlled customer engagement: by asking the right questions – again, early and often – at different points throughout the sale process, you can eliminate the risk of getting shut down at closing.
Apply these three tips to help take ‘no’ out of your sales equation:
#1: Build a dialogue based on multiple asks.
To get a sale, you’ve got to ask. And I don’t mean a cold, one-time ask: you’ll have the best chance at success if you ask early and often. Plus, your potential for a ‘yes’ is even greater if you establish a framework for your asks.
Like most success stories, a positive customer outcome begins with a plan. This proactive preparation allows you to build your ask brick-by-brick through a series of carefully planned and orchestrated interactions.
First, break your sales process into sections. For example, a smartphone sales model might include the following steps: close plan, close phone, close accessories, and then close the full sale. Once you’ve identified the key touch points in the process, create specific asks for each segment. Present opportunities for upgrades in a structured way that showcases options and provides multiple routes to ‘yes.’
By offering a variety of options, your odds for a positive response get a nice boost. There are always several shades of gray you can explore to find the right fit for a customer.
#2: Get a commitment early.
Though it may seem counterintuitive to push hard out of the gate, it’s always best to secure a clear commitment as early in the sale dialogue as possible. Why? Because it helps build confidence and momentum. Once you’ve checked off the first ‘yes’ it’s easier to earn a customer’s full buy-in.
Again, taking a measured approach to securing approval is also key. Work through the steps of your sales process, confirming the ‘yes’ at each stage. Once you’ve found a plan that meets the buyer’s needs, you can check it off your list (even if it’s only a mental checklist). Next, move on to the phone, and so on. By using a systematic approach, you can listen for emerging objections and provide solutions or other options at the problem point.
This is also a great way to deploy special offers. For example, let’s say you’ve come to a consensus on a plan and phone. However, the customer begins to show signs of indecision or uncertainty when you start talking accessories. Overcome that potential ‘no’ by proactively offering a coupon for an accessory purchase. Coupons are great tools to incite add-on purchases. In fact, 57 percent of buyers who used a digital coupon said they wouldn’t have purchased the item without a discount.
#3: Revisit touch points to reinforce the sale and isolate objections.
What are the six most dreaded words in sales? ‘I need to think about it.’ It’s not quite a ‘no’, but it’s definitely not a ‘yes,’ either. If your potential buyer suddenly needs to ponder their purchase, don’t panic. Go back to your checklist – it’s an important tool to help you reassure customers. Revisit each section and review the reasons why they made their selection.
Finally, take this opportunity to connect the customer’s purchase decisions to their personal needs. For example: ‘You went with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 so you can write by hand, and you got that Mophie battery case so you can stay juiced up on the go. Nice work.’ By isolating problem points, you can address them individually without risking the overall sale.
About Kevin Cundiff
Kevin Cundiff is Vice President of Retail for Fortegra, a subsidiary of Tiptree Financial Inc. (NASDAQ: TIPT). Fortegra is a single source insurance services company that, through a network of preferred partners, through a network of preferred partners, offers a range of consumer protection options including credit insurance, warranty products, automotive solutions, and specialty underwriting programs. Delivering multi-faceted coverage with an unmatched service experience for both resellers and their customers, Fortegra solves immediate, everyday needs, empowering consumers to worry less and Experience More.