Yes, it is hard to lose an order. I hate it also. Yet, losing a sale graciously is the ticket to be considered for the next opportunity.
Sales gurus and trainers have long argued for sales people to always be “closing” and, in effect, to never give up on the order. Positive thinking is a large part of selling and so is assertiveness, but I have found that “No” can be an acceptable answer.
The word “No”, or any objection as far that goes, can be a request for information—thus, it is always appropriate to dig deeper with open ended questions to find out the real concerns behind the sales objection. Yet, there times when your product does not fit, when the customer is not ready, or when the funds are not available for a purchase. Essentially, “No” can mean stop selling now.
“No” means to the seller that you need to focus your energies on other prospects and customers; to the buyer, it means much the same. It is at this point that the skilled salesperson reacts with calm acceptance about the outcome. Rather than pressing harder which might only anger the buyer, the salesperson acknowledges that the conversation is tabled. The words to be said by the seller communicate that you understand. You could say, “I understand” or “I see” or “I can see how you came to that conclusion”.
I recommend taking one more step. I suggest you express “gratitude”. Tell the buyer how thankful you are for being considered. This would also be a good time to acknowledge your appreciation for the relationship with the buyer and the firm—do this only if it is true. If you don’t feel that way, it won’t sound authentic.
This sophisticated salesperson knows that having the chance to do business again is critical to the future. Strong eye contact, a firm handshake and smile will go a long way to making that happen. Consider sending a handwritten note card as a follow up. A polite email of thanks can work, too. Propose a meeting in a few weeks or months to reconnect. Keep the door open.
It just might be your turn next time.
John Bradley Jackson
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