Getting a Decision on the Spot
This is a question that comes up over and over when I run my “Get More Clients Saying Yes!” course. It’s also an emotional one, with many clients and friends having strong opinions around the topic.
Is it right to try and get a decision on the spot during sales conversations?
Doesn’t that put pressure on the client and make us feel “icky”?
Isn’t this just the same as the traditional “pushy” sales that we are trying to move away from?
I actually do believe it’s important to bring a potential client to a clear decision quickly – to me the real issue is not that we are trying to encourage a quick decision, but how we go about it.
There is one approach that I’m definitely not a fan of.
It’s been affectionately nicknamed by a friend of mine the “Buy Now or F*** Off!” sales approach. In the last few months it’s been experienced by a number of my clients, by a friend of mine when buying a new kitchen, and by me when exploring possibilities with a potential business mentor.
The “Buy Now or F*** Off” approach does exactly what it says on the tin and goes something like this:
1. Take client through the sales conversation as normal. Involving building rapport, listening, exploring problem, empathy and compassion.
2. At the solution stage before offering your solution ask the potential client if they are committed to solving their problem by working with you. Usually before they know what is involved or the level of investment.
3. If client doesn’t give a clear commitment before knowing details of your package tell them that you only work with people who are committed and decisive and as they are neither you will not be inviting them to work with you. This may elicit the required commitment but if it doesn’t, end the call and move on to the next client.
There is also a variation on 3. which involves offering a significant discount for an on-the-spot commitment. Again, if the client fails to commit on the spot, end the call, remove the opportunity and move on to the next client.
I’ve been at the receiving end of this approach myself this summer and was stunned at how it left me feeling. The turn from compassion, interest and empathy as I shared personal and business details to coldnesss and even aggression when I wasn’t in a position to commit left me feeling pretty shaken up afterwards.
But here’s the thing – this approach does work. In fact it works really well and is surprisingly effective. There are many people who are way more successful than I am who have grown their business entirely using this approach. Their philosophy goes a bit like this: “OK so I will annoy and upset some people, but that’s OK because I don’t want those sort of people as clients anyway, and the number of “Yeses” that I get more than makes up for the number of people I might upset along the way. And if they don’t say “Yes” on this call they are probably not going to say “Yes” later anyway”
So like so many established, traditional sales techniques it works!
But it’s not very heart-centred. I also think it’s short sighted.
While I love sales and selling, and I love getting fairly rewarded for sharing my gifts I also love respecting people, working with integrity and treating people how I like to be treated. I like to get off my sales calls leaving my potential clients feeling good about their decision – whether it’s a Yes or a No.
I see it as my responsibility to help the client clearly see just how I can help them, the impact it will have and the cost of doing nothing. But it is not my job to force them to a decision, no matter how clearly I think they need my help.
So, while I don’t subscribe to the “Buy Now of F*** Off” approach I DO believe it’s important to bring your clients to a decision while they are on a call with you.
This is because of 2 key factors in basic human psychology:
1. Natural Resistance
People (all people – myself included) will always resist spending both money and time. Even to achieve a change that they know they want. Even when someone knows on an emotional level that they want to work with you it is almost always more comfortable for them to take some time to “think about it”. So if you let them they normally will.
2. The Half-Life of Enthusiasm
Your client is never going to be as emotionally engaged in the idea of working with you to solve their problem as they are right in that moment on the call with you having just spent up to an hour exploring the impact it’s having and creating a vision for how things could be instead. 24 hours later they will be only half as enthusiastic and committed – leave it a whole week and it just might not feel so important any more and the doubts and naysayers will have taken hold.
What these factors combined mean is that if, by the end your sales conversation, your client doesn’t have the clarity and certainty that they need to make a decision then they will be even less clear after 3 days of “thinking about it”.
And so because I really “get” this, I like to offer incentives for a quick decision
Whether I’m selling my online programme or membership via webinars, or places on my private mentoring programme in a 1-2-1 conversation I always build in a good reason to make a quick decision.
But there’s an important distinction
I do this with the intention of getting those people who are already a strong “Internal Yes!” to overcome their natural resistance and make a commitment.
And I tell people that’s what I’m doing. I don’t dress it up as only wanting to work with decisive people. In fact many of my clients are not decisive action takers. That’s often why they want my help in the first place!
At the same time I recognise that sometimes for a larger investment (and what constitutes a “large” investment is different for different clients) people do often need a little time and space to process things. So if it feels appropriate I might give people a little more space – sometimes a few days, but I keep control of the process and I don’t let the client let themselves off the hook.
And if someone has a valid reason why this might not be a good time for them – a major house move coming up, a close family member going into hospital – I will acknowledge that and schedule to speak again later – after all why would I want to take on a client who isn’t going to be able to give their full commitment to my process and not get the results I know I can deliver?
See? No smoke and mirrors. Just service and straightforwardness.
The difference between this and “Buy Now or F*** Off” is that it respects the clients right to follow a longer decision making process if that is what they need. There is no point pushing someone to a decision who wakes up full of anxiety the next morning and calls you to cancel. You want them to be fully on board, emotionally and mentally.
But this is also why knowing how to take someone through a structured sales conversation is so crucial. Because if you do this well you will know exactly where your client is at by the end of your conversation and whether it’s right to encourage them to make a commitment right then, or build in a little more space. You can’t force anyone to a “Yes” decision – and neither would you want to – but if you understand where they are at you will know if the “I need to think about it” is really a “polite No” that you need to explore more deeply, or a genuine need to reflect and process and you can adjust your sales process accordingly. Which in turn means you are respecting the potential client, which builds trust, and actually makes them more likely to commit than if you try to force them into something they are just not sure about yet.
I would love to know your opinion on this topic – do let me know in the comments below.