BUYER'S REMORSE: how to avoid it
Dec 1, 1998 12:00 PM, Ted Tate
After you spend hours closing a prospect and using every strategy you canpossibly think of, the buyer finally decides to go with you. You feel astrong sense of achievement as you thank him and leave. The next morning,however, you have a message waiting at your office. The new customer hadcalled and cancelled. In a panic, you run to the phone and call the buyeronly to find that he is supposedly not in, despite repeated calls. Buyer'sremorse is every salesperson's nightmare.
Something common among all people is that after we make a decision to buysomething, we then start to wonder if it was the right thing to do. It is anormal reaction, and if you understand that it really happens with allcustomers, you can take some steps to make sure they feel good about theirbuying decision, thereby avoiding their cancellation once you leave. Hereare several strategies to keep a sale locked in.
Ask why. This is my personal favorite. After everything is completed, I sayto the new customer that I realize he must have considered other products,and I then ask what it is about mine that made him choose it over theother. Now, I stop talking and listen. I speak only to encourage morecomments by asking for such things as additional reasons. The more thecustomer tells you about his reasons for becoming your new customer, themore he will sell himself on the wisdom of the decision. Rather thanforcing your customer to see that he made the right choice, allow him tocome to that conclusion on his own. It is rare for someone to cancel afterthis exercise, unless you do not remain true to your word as is discussedbelow.
Deliver. Get your product delivered and installed or initiate service asquickly as you possibly can, even if it is only a small order. The longer acustomer has to reconsider purchasing your product, the more time he has tobuild up doubt. Avoid that.
Get a valid contract or order form properly signed with all details-price,a description of the exact agreement, amount of purchase, dates when moniesare due-in writing. Verify by asking if the person signing has theauthority to make the order. In some organizations, people may exaggeratetheir authority. If a prospect tells you that someone else has to sign,then wait for the signature on the spot if at all possible. Do not accept apromise to send the signed contract by mail.
Collecting a deposit, even a token amount, is a great binder. In a vastnumber of business firms, even large ones, it is possible to request a cashdeposit and the balance payable upon completion of the installation, thecheck being given to the driver. When you sell to large firms, obtain acompleted, signed copy of their purchase order before you leave, even if itmeans you have to wait around for someone to type it. Try at all costs toavoid having them mail it later. Also, ask how long it takes to get paid.Some firms will drag it out for 120 days, and no one can afford to waitthat long.
Do not run out too quickly. After you close someone and complete thenecessary paperwork, take a few moments to reassure him of the wisdom ofhis decision. You can paint a little word picture about how good they willfeel about making this decision. Point to either future employee happinessor customer satisfaction in the wake of a new installation. Help him seethe positive impact his decision will have.
Face any problems you may encounter squarely. If you try this and thecustomer is not positive or starts to hedge, this is a potential sign ofbuyer's remorse. The only way to deal with it is by directly asking aboutthe indecision. Do not simply leave and hope for the best. If a prospect isgoing to cancel, find out while you are there when you still have anothershot at closing. Once you leave, and he cancels out of your presence, it isalmost impossible to get a foot back in the door. He has done you wrong,and he knows it. Because he is embarrassed, he will not ever want to see ortalk to you again.
Be true to your word. Follow up personally on any promises and detailsyou've committed to. If you have to lie or misrepresent in order to sell,you are in the wrong business. Any salesperson who violates this ruledeserves the consequences.
Separate business acquaintances from personal friends. Do not ever hangaround to socialize after a sale. It is a potentially costly mistake to mixbusiness and social friendships. Once you tie up all the details, leave.
Act like you expect business. This is a big one, and most people are notaware they do it. When making a sale, do not act too excited upon closing.No matter how big a sale you may close, keep your cool. Never make a bigdeal about thanking people for their business or promising a client that hewill not regret his decision or just babbling on and on about how pleasedyou happen to be. Why? Because it makes people start to wonder just howmuch money you are making at their expense. I keep a straight face and actas if that was the only decision I expected. As I leave, I shake hands,look them in the eye and say, "Welcome to our business family. I'm happyyou'll have the chance to see why so many people just like yourself havebeen joining us." What I was doing-instead of thanking them for theirbusiness-was complementing them on the wisdom of their decision to buy fromme.
Follow these steps, and avoid suffering from outbreaks of buyer's remorse.The key is reassurance. Do everything in your power to maintain a client'sconfidence in his decision to buy from you. At the same time, however,never do anything that can disrupt or shatter that confidence. It is inyour hands. Good luck and good selling.