It can be very frustrating when people are reluctant to make an engagement, or they dance around the subject and won’t provide straight answers. They just won’t come out and tell you what they want. However, concluding that these prospects are inaccessible, or closed off, can be counterproductive on your part. First, you may develop a bad attitude toward this type of lead, and your feelings will show through your tone. This will make closing a sale virtually impossible and secondly, it demonstrates you made no effort to understand why the prospect chose not to engage.
Instead of embracing your frustration and dismissing the potential, try to see the situation from the lead’s point of view. The prospect may already be loyal to another brand and feel uncomfortable trying something new. This is the type of loyal customer you want on your side. If you can persuade such a prospect to engage and give your products a chance, you are likely to build a long-term relationship.
A prospect may also be reluctant because they have endured a bad buying experience in the past. They want to avoid making another mistake. In this situation, you will need to reassure the lead that you will provide a much more satisfying buying experience.
Other times, prospects just don’t feel they have a problem that you can solve, whether they do. These prospects are typically the hardest to engage.
Be Upfront and Use Straight Talk
Approach some hesitant prospects with a lot of sensitivity. In other situations, it is best to be more straightforward. Address the lead’s reticent behavior directly by stating you understand why they feel the need to clam up, but emphasize why this behavior isn’t necessary with your respected and trustworthy company.
Say something like:
“It appears you may have a bad sales experience in the past. You might assume I am here to get something from you. That is not my goal, I want to help you succeed, but I need you to share. Help me to understand what your needs so I can provide the best solution.”
This approach offers two benefits:
- It shows the prospect their behavior is being interpreted as reticent. They may not be aware they are acting cautiously.
- By not beating around the bush, it will help you establish trust. Honest people are generally forthright and willing to address problems head on.
You can even go as far as to tell a prospect you will drop the offer if you are not sure it is a perfect match. This demonstrates a commitment to quality, rather than a drive to chase sales, thus promoting trust.
Ask Positive Questions
Rather than focusing on what is going wrong, encourage the prospect to pinpoint areas that need improvement. Craft questions with a more positive spin. It can be more comfortable for people to speak about what can be made better rather than point fingers at all the negatives.
If you get the feeling a prospect doesn’t want to reveal or discuss problems in their company, redirect your questions. Don’t stay focused on what’s not working. Instead, ask about areas that can be improved. What can be done better?
Some prospects who are reluctant to engage will respond well to an offer of hope. If this doesn’t bring them out of their shell, it might be time to move on to another potential lead.
Do Not Take Anger Personally
It is never easy to deal with an angry person, especially when you are not responsible for causing the anger. In this type of setting, we feel like we’re being treated unfairly. It is natural to take this behavior personally and let more emotions escalate the exchange. Take a deep breath, avoid getting sucked into the negative energy and focus on the goal of establishing trust.
Keep in mind, an angry response often results from mistrust. You haven’t gotten the chance to present who you are, what your company represents and what products you offer, much less the possible solutions you can provide, and the prospect is already objecting. They don’t yet know they can trust you, they have been let down before.
Gently gain control of the situation by carefully reminding them that you have never let them down, in fact, what you can offer is a much more satisfying experience than the previous one that left them in a tizzy.
What if You are the One Causing Anger?
Some customers don’t respond well to the straightforward approach. In this case, you may cause an angry response. They may see you as being too intrusive, your request for honesty and transparency as inappropriate prying. This method may remind them of a time when they once got burned, and this can be very irritating.
A good salesperson with strong ethics would view this dilemma: Is it possible for me to proceed with this prospect, not clearly knowing their situation? It is suggested in this case, that salespeople instruct clients that a deal cannot be made now due to a lack of information. They simply don’t know enough about the prospect.
This approach is likely to evoke one of the following responses: no thank you and the deal is lost, or the prospect will realize there is something of interest being offered. If at this point, the prospect still hesitates to engage, it is time to stop trying. It is important to know when to quit and there is no point in chasing after a deal that is not realistically going to happen. If the prospect chooses to interact, you will be in a much stronger position to make a sale.
Improving Prospect Engagement
Experiment with a wide variety of engagement tactics to encourage prospects to communicate. Remain determined and persistent, don’t take everything to heart. Be consistent and keep your methods fresh. Take the time to empathize and understand your prospects so you can develop a stronger connection and build long lasting relationships.