What are you really saying to your customers?

Have you had a great conversation with a potential customer, been really optimistic about getting them on board, and then never heard from them again? Maybe that conversation wasn’t as great as you had thought? Impossible! You know your product inside and out, you answered every question they had. As hard as it may be for you to identify, there may be something small in the way you are speaking with these customers that is putting them off coming back.

While working in the office recently I overheard the conversation a marketing consultant had with a potential customer. The whole time the consultant was talking to the customer the pitch was great, flowing and confident with lots of information generating more and more interest from their initial inquiry. However when it came to the close, the consultant asked, “Is that something you’re interested in?”  The complete change in their tone of voice and the fact that the question was even being raised, especially by the consultant themself, completely went against the grain of the whole pitch up until then.  Although it may seem like a natural progression to ask the customer if they would like to follow up their inquiry, you may in fact be un-knowingly turning them away.

When a person contacts you to inquire about your product, they are obviously already interested. What you have to do from then on is show them why you are the best choice for whatever it is they’re looking for or in other words give them a reason to use your company. In most cases the person would have done some research on you and your competitors before contacting you, so more than likely you would already be one of if not the sole preference of this person by the time you even get to talk to them. So it shouldn’t be too hard to get them on board, right? The issue that the consultant previously mentioned had was the question at the end of their pitch; this causes the potential client to question why they shouldn’t be interested. It gave them food for thought, and indirectly displays a lack of belief by the consultant that this potential customer will become a buyer.

There are 3 main types of closes that could apply to this situation; assumptive, alternative and in-different.

A assumptive close would have taken into account all the positive buying signs that the customer was showing, and built on them with a strong close such as, “all we need to do now is get you to come in for a meeting to discuss the finer details of your requirements, what day would be easiest for you?” In this technique the consultant would have been assuming that the customer wanted to act upon their interest, and can come across as pushy if used on someone who is clearly still un-sure on their decision.

An alternative close is very self explanatory, simply offer the customer two or so options both of which lead to a sale but allowing the customer to make the final decision and feel that they have the power of choice. An example of this would have been the consultant saying “with our website packages we can either do a quick tidy up of the biggest issues or we can design you a whole new website, which do you think you’d prefer?” In most cases people will make a choice simply by human nature, and at very least it will give them something to think about after they have finished talking to you.

An In-different close is the hardest to pull off, because it relies wholly upon the customer making the decision to choose your company. In this situation the decision is left completely up to the customer, the consultant wouldn’t try and influence one way or another. This is handy for very authoritarian people who like to control the conversation so you don’t make them feel like you are challenging them for the control.

The point at hand is a close must suit the pitch, if you’re confident in your product and the potential customer is showing interest in the product, then be assumptive in your close with them, or deliver a confident alternative. Be careful not to get carried away and become pushy, which would have the opposite to the desired effect, but the last words you say to your customer will be a big factor for which way their decision goes. So think carefully about what you are really saying with your final words...
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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert with more than 20 years experience. Having founded and built two successful marketing companies internationally, she is well recognized as a industry thought leader and innovator. Mellissah started her career working with technology and professional services firms, primarily in marketing, public relations and investor relations, positioning a number of successful companies to list on the various Stock Exchanges around the world. She is a writer, technology developer and entrepreneur who shares her thoughts and experiences through blogs and written articles published in various media outlets. Brag sheet: #2 marketer to follow on Twitter (2003), Top 150 Marketers to Follow (2015), Top 10 innovative marketers (2014), 60K+ followers on Twitter with 97% authentic.

3 comments

  • chloe
    chloe
    18/09/11

    I see this all the time as I'm doing my shopping where retailers cross the borders of being helpful/initiating sales to being too pushy. and most of the time it does come down to a few words which can make a conversation feel completely purpose driven and insincere.

  • Sam
    Sam
    12/09/11

    Very interesting topic, I've never thought that in depth about the small things I say to potential customers.

  • Meyry
    Meyry
    08/09/11

    Good advice! That's so true. Sometimes, people just don't know how to close a sale properly. As a consumer, sometimes wrong closing strategy, may just swap away our interest.

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