Having worked in different sales-related roles in my career, I have experienced enough interactions with customers to know whether they will buy or not. While “reading people” can be an art, there is nothing more definitive than hearing a customer tell you “YES” or “NO” in the end. It might surprise you to find out that I do not mind hearing the occasional “NO” from a customer. Everyone needs to make a decision that is right for them, me included, so if a customer tells me “NO”, for whatever reason, I will accept that and move forward. The main obstacle that we might face is how to get to that definitive yes or no without pestering the customer. The answer is to practice polite aggression and blend it with a level of persistence that serves a dual purpose, rather than a singular. To help illustrate this, I have 3 methods of how you can make this practice work for you:
- The art of the Dual-Purpose “follow up.”
- I LOVE to follow up with people. It has always been a part of my job that I enjoy, and I’ll tell you why; It is because I am trying to offer a free service to my customers. I view my customers as being extremely busy with millions of responsibilities on their plates, so it is my job to follow up with them, so they do not miss out on something (whether that be a sale price, promotion, installation deadline, etc.). I will continue to follow up until the customer gives me that definitive yes or no that I spoke about earlier. However, this is where the “polite” portion comes into the equation. Your attitude and demeanor in the follow-up are what will differentiate you from being helpful or being that pushy salesperson. You will need to approach the follow-up from a dual-purpose position which means if I contact you at the end of the month urging you to buy, it’s obvious I’m only doing this to obtain my sales goal or a bonus. If I contact a customer in a manner of “I noticed a new SKU or promo that may help you achieve the budget you had set forth” it is serving a dual purpose. I may still get that sale to help with my goals but I’m also helping you hit the budget you needed to meet. Don’t be afraid to put in the work and creativity to identify that dual purpose and use it to your advantage….and the customer’s!
- Calendar Reminders are our friends.
- How many of us use our Outlook calendars (or others) to set reminders every week? I will tell you it has been a gift for me personally and has helped close sales in the past. I once had a client tell me in February that they weren’t closing on their new lease until January of the following year. Can you guess what happened next? I set a harmless calendar reminder for a random day that following January and wound up closing a sale simply because of the reminder/follow-up. This isn’t a new/fancy trick but rather something that I think more should be utilizing. When speaking to a customer, another manner of being polite and aggressive is to let them know “Great, you mentioned your lease isn’t up for renewal until the following year so I’ll go ahead and set a reminder for both of us and I will check in with you at that time. I’ll also set a note for myself to be on the lookout for any new discounts or holiday promos that might help ease any penalties or charges you could face in ending the lease early”. Simple, effective, and more times than not the customer is pleasantly surprised to hear from you because it shows you listened and didn’t forget them.
- Setting deadlines and sticking to them.
- As a fellow customer, I will tell you there is nothing more annoying than when a salesperson gives me some type of deadline only to go back on it and create a new deadline. For example, back in 2020 when I was in the market for a new SUV, I had a salesperson tell me “This price will expire at the end of October”. Only to have that salesperson call me in November offering the same exact price. At that point, I had already bought a new SUV but his future credibility with me is now gone because I know he just wanted to make a sale. As it pertains to all of you, it should be relatively simple. Do not give your customer a deadline thinking it will force their hand to say YES. Certainly, if an item is on promo and you have a firm end date you should inform them of that. But telling a customer something will happen, that then doesn’t happen is a bad idea and will probably do more bad than good in the long run. I have experienced unhappy customers before because by the time they said YES, the price had changed, but once I was able to remind them of the previous deadline and give them details on why the price changed was still able to win the customer because of integrity and being polite throughout the situation.
These 3 methods are only a few of the things I use to practice “polite aggression”. It’s about removing the stigma surrounding pushy salespeople and letting the customer know that you are there to support them and their needs while also serving your own needs in the process. The key to all of this is getting “Yes” as much as possible, but even when a customer says “No”, I am still happy with that because it shows me that the customer was comfortable enough with me to deliver the news and they made a decision that was best for them. I will also look to that customer for future opportunities even though the present one didn’t turn out as intended. My challenge for each of you as we head full speed into 2024 is to practice one of the above methods or possibly create your own. Follow-up is an essential part of any opportunity, regardless of your job function but don’t forget to remain polite and customer-focused during the process.