How To Keep Buyers From “Kicking The Sales Can”

I had a long time friend of mine who’s in sales call me today. He told me he had a buyer who he could not get to call him back after pitching his product several weeks ago. He asked me for my opinion.

In sales we typically call this situation “kicking the sales can” because the buyer keeps pushing off the final decision. Anytime I have had this happen to me it was because of two things:

Urgency — No urgency, no money. Think about the times when you had an unexpected emergency expense come up — the co-pay you had to pay at the emergency room when your son broke his arm, the front window you had to fix because your lawnmower shot a rock through it, or the flat tire you had to replace on your family road trip. You weren’t planning on allocating money to those unexpected expenses, but you found a way to do it because there was urgency, right? The same thing happens with the buyer’s thought process. If they discover a pain, and you have a solution to their pain, they find money to pay for it — even if they haven’t budgeted for it. Urgency comes from realization of a problem/pain. Find the problem and you’ve found urgency.

Creating proper urgency should happen on your initial discovery call, long before you try to ask for the sale. The discovery call is best because this is where you have permission to ask them all of the questions you want in order to give you a clear understanding of their current situation.

You might say something like this as you ask for the sale:

“Earlier told me that you do not have the time to manually track your productivity. You agreed that automating the process would save you time and money. How much did you say it would save you? Wow! $5,000 per month!? Based on your current situation you should probably implement something as soon as possible. Would you agree? How about we get you going right now so you can fix that.”

Try to create urgency without properly discovering where their problem lies turns into high-pressure sales, which no one likes. Remind them of their problem and how your product/services solves it, then they internalize the urgency.

Proper Expectations —You’ve got to make sure that at the end of every sales call you and the buyer knows what the next steps are. Never let the buyer tell you that they’ll be in touch. Make them tell you specifically what they are going to do to make next. It could be to have accounts payable write a check, get permission from a superior, or discuss with other decision makers. Whatever it is, make them tell you what they are going to do — then agree on a specific date and time to follow up again. Setting a specific date to talk again keep both parties accountable.

You might say something like this:

“Based on what you’ve shared with me it sounds like our product is a good fit because of x, y, and z. Would you agree? Great! The next step is to get started with signing the contract. What needs to fall into place for you in order to make payment?”

Being able to go back to the buyer and tell them they are not keeping up their end of the bargain is a much more powerful way to following up with someone as opposed to calling them you want them to call you back, just because.

Last Resort — If you have properly set expectations, you are confident you have created proper urgency, and they still aren’t responding to you, you may need to consider telling them the deal is off. In some cases the buyer realizes how unresponsive they have been and calls you right back to take care of remaining business. At a very minimum you’ll usually get a ‘no’. And as you know, a ‘no’ is better than a ‘maybe’ or no response at all.

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