Let them make their own decision

Let them make their own decision

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when in a sales conversation or a sales situation is to appear to make the decision on behalf of the potential client.

You’ll know what I mean because you’ve probably been on the receiving end of this yourself.   Where the other person appears to have made their mind up well in advance of actually speaking with you.

Watch the video below or scroll down to read more.

If you do it has more than one negative consequence.

Firstly – if you veer into appearing to have made the decision on behalf of the client, and then try and shoehorn them into it you are more likely to push them away.    You can easily lose a client who would almost certainly have bought from you, if you’d just given them a bit more space to make their own decision.

Secondly – if the person feels that the decision to work with you is THEIRS rather than yours  they will be far more committed to that decision, much less likely to have buyers remorse and change their mind before you start work, and far more committed to the actual process you enter into together – which means better results for them, and a better reputation for your business.

However not making the decision for them also doesn’t mean being passive.   It’s not about going “oh, here, this is what I do, now you know you can come and find me when you need me”.  Because human beings just don’t work like that.  You do still need to make a strong recommendation and communicate what you do and how you can help clearly.

There is a bit of a fine line though, so here’s a bit of a quick guide to what to do and what not to do:

Let them make their own decision

The 2 Levels of Decision in a Sales Conversation

There are really 2 levels of decision in a sales conversation:

  1. Your decision that yes, you can help this person, yes they would benefit from working with you, and yes it’s the right thing for both parties for them to go ahead and invest in your service.
  2. The client’s decision, on whether or not THEY want to go ahead and work with you.

The mistake many small business owners make is that they think it’s all about step 1.  As soon as they’ve determined that they can help (often within less than 5 minutes of starting the conversation!) they jump straight in to making the offer.   This might be well intended, but it only comes across as pushy to the potential client.

So what to do and what not to do?

What not to do

  1. Don’t tell the potential client what they “need” or “what they should do”. Most of us have at least some sort of inner rebel that pushes back against being told what to do.  And almost none of us like being told what they “should” do by someone else.   If you want there to be a chance your client buys from you, whatever you do don’t appear to tell them what to do.
  2. Don’t tell them they are making a mistake by not going ahead or argue with their decision.

What to do Instead

  1. Listen to the client. Really listen.  Don’t make assumptions or jump in with your own opinions.    Even if it’s crystal clear to you within the first 10 minutes that working with you is going to change their life profoundly, forever, if you jump in and start telling them that they are likely to not believe you.  They won’t feel “heard” and they won’t feel that your recommendation is specific to them – there is a real risk they will think you are just saying it for your own gain.
  2. DO provide all the information that they might need to make their decision.  It is absolutely your job to do this.   If you don’t explain clearly what they will get and how they will benefit – either verbally in your sales conversation, or in writing on a written document or sales page – then there is no way your client can know.
  3. Communicate it in terms of the benefits to them.   I other words imagine that for everything you say they your client is internally responding with “So, What’s in it for me?”.  Tell them exactly what’s in it for them so they understand why this really is a good decision for them personally.  In fact learning to articulate the value of what you do in this way is one of the most important things you can do for your business and for your clients.
  4. Make a clear recommendation. There is a difference between making a recommendation and then respecting that persons ability to make their own decision and actually telling someone what to do.  But it’s totally appropriate, even essential, that you are clear in recommending or inviting someone to work with you and that you can explain with conviction why you are doing that.
  5. Remind them that the decision is theirs and theirs alone.  There is nothing I or anyone else can teach you to “make” someone buy from you if they are not convinced.   So you may as well respect the fact you are dealing with another human being who has got through life this far and is entirely able to make their own decisions.   Even if you strongly believe that they are making a wrong decision, telling them so will only have the effect of you pushing them away.
  6. Acknowledge that the decision might be difficult. There are all sorts of reasons why it might be hard for your client to make that leap to decide to work with you.   Your programme might be a very high investment for them, you might have an unusual methodology they haven’t come across before, or they might be suffering from a high level of anxiety or uncertainty , both of which can impair people’s ability to make decisions.    So it can really help the client if you acknowledge that it’s a big decision and allow them the space to make the decision.

If you’ve done a really good job of listening to your potential client and understanding where they are at, are clear in your own mind and have the conviction that you really can help, and know how to articulate what you can do for them in terms of it’s benefits, and provide all the information they might need to make a decision then you’ve done your job.

You can trust that the client is capable of taking it from here and doing their job – making the actual decision.

What to do once they’ve decided

Once they’ve decided the first thing to to is to acknowledge their decision.

If it’s a “Yes please!” you can move on to smoothly and seamlessly wrapping up the details and leaving them feeling enthusiastic and committed.

But if it’s a “No, thankyou” it’s important you acknowledge their decision,  irrespective of whether you agree with it.  Even if it’s crystal clear to you that they are making a huge mistake.  This lets them know you have heard them, respect them, and that you are not going to start arguing with them.

Finally, be available to help guide them through any concerns.  Many clients will end up “on the fence”.  In other words, they do want to work with you and can understand the benefits as you’ve communicated them, but will still have some concerns or resistance.   Offering to gently help them work through that resistance (rather than taking the argumentative tone that tends to come with traditional objection handling) can really help to guide them to a clear decision that’s in their best interest.

Have better sales conversations

If you want have authentic, non-pushy sales conversations that actually helps your ideal clients make a decision say “Yes please!” in a way that feels supportive and nurturing, then check out my free video series, The 7 Steps to YesYou can sign up here.

Over to you!

What about you?  Do you find yourself making this mistake? How do you handle it when you know you can help your client, but they haven’t come to the same conclusion?   Do share in in the comments below – I always love hearing from you.

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  1. Carla Jehle on August 1, 2018 at 2:31 am

    Hi Catherine,

    Another treasure, we are so lucky to have you. Even though I have done the GMCSY course, it is helpful to hear this from a slightly different angle. It helps me to really get it why it is the client’s decision and the impact on the client if I have made up my mind for them.

    I have lined up two sales conversations next week who are potentially my ideal clients, so this was perfect timing for me.


    • Catherine on August 2, 2018 at 3:51 pm

      Hi Carla
      Am so pleased you found this helpful. And “whoop whoop” about the sales conversations! Yes, get clear on whether you believe you can help, communicate your offer clearly and confidently – then step back and give them space to make their own decision – you’ll be amazed how easy it -s – and how much more comfortable it feels than when you feel responsible for “persuading” them. Make sure you let me know how you get on!

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