You know the drill. Prospects are inconsistent—they say one thing and do another. “Your product is too expensive,” they say, right before closing a deal with a competitor that costs even more. “We need more time,” you hear, then suddenly they're back with an answer the next day. It’s enough to make you bang your head against the wall and conclude that all buyers are liars.
A lot of salespeople fall into this trap and never come back out. They grow cynical and lazy, and make excuses for their failures. When a deal falls through, they shrug their shoulders and say, “Well, the buyer wasn’t straight with me.” These salespeople never really tried to communicate and engage with the buyer in the first place—all they cared about was their own commission.
1. “We need feature x”
Buyer: “We need in-app messaging—your product would just slow us down.”
When you hear this, your first thought is, “Bullshit!” Your product is an event-tracking and analytics platform—no one needs in-app messaging for that, and it feels like your prospect is trying to pull a fast one on you. But don’t just snap back and ruin the potential deal.
As a salesperson, it’s your job to uncover the real need behind why your prospect is asking for that feature. Ask them, “Can you tell me more? Why do you need built-in messaging, and how would it help your business objectives?”
They might say, “One of our top priorities is ramping up productivity and team communication.” Instead of trying to relentlessly push your product down their throat, learn as much as you can. If you can find the key pain your buyer's experiencing behind the missing feature objection, you create a window of opportunity. Swoop in with a highly-targeted value proposition.
Sales rep: “We've worked with hundreds of companies in your industry and found that in-app messaging actually detracts from overall efficiency because team members already juggle too many messaging services—that’s why we never built it. Instead, our product allows all team members to access a centralized KPI dashboard, boosting productivity by 25%.”
Show your prospect the difference between a must-have feature, and a nice-to-have feature.
When you educate your prospect about the broader industry they operate in and your product, you totally shift the sales dynamic. Chet Holmes, author of The Ultimate Sales Machine, writes that “You will attract way more buyers if you are offering to teach them something of value to them than you will ever attract by simply trying to sell them your product or service.” Make yourself an invaluable resource of knowledge for the prospect, and you’ll get the deal back on track.
Most of the time people want to slam the door in your face before you can even say “hello.” They think all you see are dollar signs, and that you'll sell anything as long as you get a cut. Move past this mentality by taking an objective, informative approach. Position yourself as an expert by delivering value beyond the parameters of the immediate sale—that’s how you win the long game.
2. “No chance in hell”
Buyer: “This is outrageous—we will never, ever buy your product ...”
A couple of days later, they call you again, asking about your product. It’s hard to deal with buyers who get dramatic and emotional, but what you need to understand is that your buyer is a real person, just like you. There could be any number of reasons why they “lied” to you—they were having a bad day, their manager told them your product is flawed, or maybe they just treat everyone like shit all the time.
You need to understand your buyer on a personal level. Figure out what makes them tick, and how you and your product can enable their success on an individual level.
Sales rep: “I get where you're coming from—if you buy something, you want to make sure it's good. What are your own objectives and goals? How can our product help you succeed?”
You’re not catering to the buyer’s every need, you’re developing larger insight into their behavior that will allow you to build an emotional bond, and a real relationship moving forward. Treated the right way, your most emotional, high-strung prospects can become your strongest advocates.
Keep in mind that your buyer probably has a lot riding on the deal—even more than you do. They have their own career trajectory to think about, and by choosing your product, they take a risk and put their reputation on the line. The deal they make with you now has bigger consequences for them later.
No one wants to be the guy who screwed the company over by buying the wrong product. Don’t just treat your buyer like a cog in the larger sales machine, but connect with them on a deeper, emotional level. That’s how you build the foundation of trust you need to make the sale.
3. “Your price is too high”
Buyer: “I like the product, but we can only afford half of what you're asking.”
This comes up all the time. You know your prospect can afford your $100/month product—otherwise they'd be out of business. But getting frustrated won't help.
What you need to understand is that a lot of buyers believe back and forth negotiations are just part of the sales process. They assume that if you say $100, they'll say $50, and eventually you’ll meet in the middle at $75. For these buyers, anyone who pays the full asking price is a sucker.
Cut through this mentality by selling value, not price. If you can show your prospect that for every $1 they spend on your product, they get $10 back, you’ll have them begging to buy.
Sales rep: “Our app increases productivity, reduces new-hire onboarding, and is beautiful and easy to use. I can refer you to any number of customers we’ve helped make successful. But don’t just take our word for it—sign up for our free trial now and see for yourself.”
Don’t just talk a big game—go the extra mile, and demonstrate the value that your product brings with it. Ask them additional questions to uncover their true needs like the ones suggested by Geoffrey James, "When you say it costs too much, what do you mean?" or "What has been your past experience with solutions like ours?"
Give them customer references. Walk them through your free trial while they’re still on the phone with you, and set them on the fast lane to your product’s Wow! moment.
Some buyers, however, will never stop asking for a discount no matter what you do. You have to know when to draw a line in the sand and say, “I want you to buy. I think we can deliver amazing value. But I can’t give you the price you want, and if that’s a deal-breaker for you, we won’t be able to work together moving forward.”
And a lot of times, saying “no” is enough to get your buyer running back to you—you end up closing the deal by taking it away. We all want what we can’t have, and by refusing to budge on price, you communicate your confidence in your product, making it even more irresistible.
Lies are only skin deep
“Buyers are liars” is a counterproductive philosophy. It's not your job to believe whatever prospects tell you, or to mistrust whatever they say. Don't be too naive or too cynical—neither helps your business. The best salespeople aren’t just in it for the deal. They want it all—they want to make money and solve problems.
There’s lots of reasons why a buyer might be “lying,” and it’s not their job to tell you why—it’s your job to find out. Always look to the bigger picture during the sales process, and how you can constantly show your buyer the value in what you do. Ultimately, that’s how you take the deal home.
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