Any purchasing decision is part emotion, part logic. Of course prospects are interested in ROI and price and implementation, but ultimately they want to know how your product will help them, how it will make their jobs and lives easier, and how it will earn them professional kudos.
Emotion extends beyond the professional realm, however. Your ability to build rapport with your prospects will go a long way toward getting them to trust you, listen to you, and ultimately buy from you.
This isn’t to say you have to become a relationship-builder. You don’t need your prospects to like you so much they’re inviting you to their vacation homes for the weekend. But you do need to establish a baseline level of mutual respect and trust.
Once you lose trust, you lose your ability to make the sale. Your prospects will question your motivations and everything you say, and it’s very hard to repair broken trust. Any of the five behaviors below should perk up your ears — they just might be signs that your relationship with your prospect is going nowhere fast.
1) They cut you off.
If your prospect interrupts you over and over again, examine the context to figure out why. Are they just excited? Or are they disgruntled?
Prospects who consistently say things like, “No, that’s not right,” or “Actually, that’s not what I meant,” aren’t feeling heard. Maybe you’ve been working off an incorrect assumption, or are just misunderstanding their questions. Take a step back and ask your prospect to review what the two of you have discussed so far to make sure you’re back on the same page, then return to the conversation realigned.
2) They’re impatient with you.
Impatience can manifest itself in many different ways — eye-rolling, sighing, and watch-checking, just to name a few. If your prospect is doing something that suggests they’d rather do anything but participate in this conversation, get their buy-in to continue — or reschedule for a better time.
It’s also possible that you’re moving too slowly. At the beginning of each call or meeting, outline what you’d like to discuss so you can make sure your agenda is actually useful for your prospect. Then, don’t be afraid to change up your approach to keep calls productive and harmonious.
3) They’re unwilling to share information with you.
Throughout a sales process, you’ll be called upon to provide a lot of information — what your product is, what your product does, how much it costs, how long it takes to implement, and a myriad of other factors your prospect needs to consider before saying “yes” or “no.”
But your prospects have to give a little too. You can’t suggest an optimal solution to their problem unless you fully understand it, and often that will require asking for internal numbers or progress on certain metrics that aren’t public knowledge.
It’s a huge red flag if your prospect refuses to share this information with you — it means they don’t see you as a trusted advisor. Whether you haven’t established enough value to justify seeing internal numbers or haven’t shared enough of your own resources to make your prospect feel they’re in a reciprocal relationship, get to the bottom of why they don’t trust you. Then, fix it.
4) They skip any pleasantries and jump into the agenda.
Not everyone likes small talk — in fact, depending on your prospect’s personality type, they might hate it.
But if your prospect doesn’t even respond to your, “Hi, how are you today?”, you’re dealing with someone who isn’t that excited to have you on the other side of the table.
On the bright side, they still want to talk to you! They probably have a need you can solve, and you’ve established enough value to keep them hooked. So don’t worry about this one too much. Unless your prospect’s behavior borders on incivility, there’s no reason they won’t buy from you if they have a real need for your product.
5) They ask to speak with someone else.
The more dramatic cousin of #4, this situation is rare but does happen from time to time. Sometimes, your prospect has a pressing need, but halfway through the sales process decides they dislike you so much that they can’t continue.
The downside is potential lost commission (investigate if your company has a commission-splitting policy for deals you’ve already spent a significant amount of time on) and the knowledge that your prospect is far from your biggest fan. But in the grand scheme of things, it could be much worse — the deal could be dead altogether.
Find a colleague you think would gel better with your point of contact and hand the deal off. You can rest easy knowing the sale is in good hands, and refocus yourself on spending time with prospects you click with.
None of these five behaviors are guaranteed to sink your deal. In fact, some of them are early indicators of mistakes that can be easily corrected. As long as you keep a close eye out for troubling behaviors and fix your missteps, your relationships with your prospects will stay productive (and lucrative).