M&M Monday

M&M Monday: Tone Down the “Hard Sell”

As we enter what is likely to be another year filled with economic uncertainty, it is important that you keep in mind how the economy has affected your customers.  Consumers and businesses alike have had to tighten their belts by eliminating unnecessary expenses and delaying purchases.  And, although you need to continually move sales forward for your own viability, taking the wrong steps in your sales process could permanently harm your long-term customer relationship prospects.

Sales tactics must be aligned with the economic climate.  If you spot a customer’s need, perhaps even one that is obviously beneficial to them and you’ve shown that the purchase will pay for itself over time (even a short time), and your customer still declines to buy . . . continuing to push the sale may do more harm than good.  If the underlying reason for the customer’s decline is that they simply do not have the cash on hand (due to a household member being laid off, a drastic decline in revenue, etc.), no amount of cajoling will close the sale.

Financial pressures are highly emotional issues.   The are also extremely private issues, and you will never know what financial pressures your customers are under.  Continuing to pursue the sale, even in the manner that was acceptable in a more favorable economic climate, could make your financially-strapped customers uncomfortable, defensive, and in the worst case embarrassed.  Regardless of the reaction you get, the result will be the same . . . you will not close the sale and your efforts may result in an emotionally-fueled relationship ending experience with your customer.

This isn’t to say that you should stop selling altogether, after all you have a business to run and grow.  But it might make sense to pull your sales team together, review your 2011 efforts and your customers’ sales-refusal reasons, and refine your sales approach to accommodate any suspected financially-based refusal reasons that you identify.

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