Salespeople get a bad reputation sometimes, and are unfairly stereotyped as pushy, greedy, and arrogant. These misconceptions come from a few bad apples who corner their prospects and use forceful, fear-based techniques to make a quick buck, regardless of what is right for their client. None of us want to give off that vibe, but the trouble is that sometimes you need to push to close the sale, and other times you should walk away. How hard should you push to win a piece of business? When is it right to push hard with the hope of closing a sale, and when is it right to sit back and lose with grace?
When closing a sale can cost you the war
A few years ago, we went head to head with another firm. Our competitor had a strong relationship with the incumbent broker, and worked on many of their accounts. The broker fully anticipated that our competitor would win, but did the right thing and lined up several options for their client, including us. We had never worked with this broker before, so they felt shocked when their client chose to work with us after the finalist meeting.
Our competitor fought hard to make the client question their choice, and could not gracefully walk away. They pushed so hard for this one piece of business, that they destroyed their relationship with the broker. The broker ended up moving all of their business to our firm. Just think, if they had graciously accepted the loss and walked away, they would have maintained their relationship with the broker and kept all of their business! When closing a sale takes some pressure, take a look at the big picture before deciding how much to push!
When walking away leads to more wins
Sometimes losing the battle will help you win the war. Here is an example: a carrier partner brought us in to a potential client. The client and the broker who attended the meeting loved us, and we scheduled the project with them. However, the VP of the brokerage firm wanted the business to go with another carrier and undermined the sale. We probably could have kept the account if we fought for it. However, we gracefully walked away to protect our relationships and our reputation. Years later, the same broker brought us multiple new accounts.
Even if you did everything right to earn the business, there are times when you will lose. Making sales is not always about who has the best product, service, or presentation; it comes down to whether or not people want to see you win. Do not fight so hard to keep one account that your contacts stop caring if you win! The broker felt bad that we lost out on an account we should have won, and they were impressed with how we handled the situation. They are advocates for us now and want us to win!It's not the best product, service, or presentation; it's about who wants to see you win! Click To Tweet
When to fight for the close, and when to walk away
If you must create fear or emotional pressure in closing a sale, walk away. If you know that your client will regret this purchase, walk away. Never compromise your integrity for a sale, because you will lose in the end. Always look at the bigger picture. Consider that this one sale could actually harm your brand and decimate your reputation. Is it really worth it?
A long time ago, I met with a business owner who was considering making significant changes to their health plan. They thought that my firm might serve them better than their current agent. After reviewing all of their options, I advised them that their current agent had them on the best program available. I shared the drawbacks of moving to the program we offered and advised them to stay with the incumbent broker. The client was grateful for my honesty and decided not to make any changes. I lost the sale that day, but the cost of closing a sale is too high if it compromises your integrity. Think of your personal brand and weigh whether or not it is worth pushing for this piece of business.
When hard-selling is appropriate
There are times when “hard-selling” is appropriate and necessary. If you believe you are doing what is best for your client and you are confident that they will regret not moving forward, you might need to apply pressure.
For example, let’s say that your friend has been searching for a dining room table with specific features. You happen to find one that fits their specifications exactly, and it is in their budget! However, it is in a used furniture store, meaning that there is only one available. You call your friend and apply hard-sell tactics: you appeal to their desire by describing the features, emphasize the low price, stress that there is only one model to apply the scarcity principle, and tell them that the store is busy to create urgency. Your friend drops what they are doing and rushes to purchase the table. In this case, it was appropriate to apply hard-sell tactics to help your friend. Hard-selling is not the problem that gives salespeople a bad reputation- it is the circumstances under which the technique is applied.
Losing sales is frustrating, especially when you feel that the client is making a mistake. Remember that losing with grace can reinforce your brand and lead to loyal partnerships in the long run. Use your losses as an opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism and goodwill. Tell your prospect you are sorry that they decided to take their business elsewhere, but offer them advice on who they should go to next. Tell them what to look for when weighing their options. Genuinely try to do what is best for the prospect, and they might surprise you by coming back years later. Life is long, and the good things we do have a strange way of coming back around!