Have you ever been in a situation where an important client is making a bad decision? Let’s say this has been a dream customer, and you’re responsible for getting them to sign for a big add-on contract. Now, they’re backing away and talking about going with a competitor. You know the competitor doesn’t have what this client needs. What should you do next?
Ken Sterling, in a recent Inc. column, offered advice to salespeople who find themselves in this situation. If you argue that the client is going to cost their company more in the long term by going with a competitor, you might come off sounding like you only care about your commission. In fact, if you don’t handle the situation properly, you could lose the entire contract.
In these kinds of situations, you need to appeal to the decision maker through emotion and logic. Nobody wants to hear that they are flat out wrong. If you come to that conclusion as soon as your client announces the fateful decision, keep your opinion to yourself – at first.
Start your end of the conversation by asking them why they’ve made a specific decision. Listen for the important details. Jot down a few notes if you need to. For example, your prospect might claim the competition will give them a 10% break on price. Or, maybe the competition has promised a free update by midyear when your client is counting on getting their own upgrade out the door.
Once you have the information you need, you can craft your response. Appeal to your client’s emotion by staying humble. Compliment them on their business success and their decision-making process. Acknowledge that they are the expert in their field.
Then move on to the logic part of your argument. Tell them you respect their decisions and ask if they are open to new information. Hint that a successful business person is always interested in the best information.
At that point, you can share what you know. Maybe the chief architect at the competition is actually coming to work for you. As a result, the competitor may not be able to meet the deadline as they expected.
It's never easy to disagree with a client or a prospect. Choose your words carefully to try to lead them to a new understanding of the situation.