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Susan Solovic, The Small Business Expert is an award-winning entrepreneur, an attorney, a New York Times best-selling author, a media personality and a highly sought after keynote speaker.

How Your Small Business Can Transform a Reluctant Buyer

How Your Small Business Can Transform a Reluctant Buyer

Pharmaceutical companies and others end their advertisements with enough small print or fast talk disclaimers to make your head spin. I’ll put mine right up here at the top: You can’t always turn a reluctant customer into a buyer. You're product simply isn't going to be right for everyone.

I could list items like:

  • Demonstrate your product,
  • Refer to expert testimonials, or
  • Let the shopper experience the product’s best/unique features.

But I think it’s more important to understand the bigger picture and take an “organic” approach to turning the corner and closing the sale with a reluctant buyer, and it all starts with your self image.

Do you see yourself as a person trying to sell something to someone or as a professional trying to solve your customer’s problem? Just as a doctor works to diagnose a patient’s problem and prescribe the best treatment, you should find the best product to address the needs of your customer or your client.

Understanding and “owning” this on a personal level can prevent situations where you find yourself trying to sell to someone who doesn’t want to buy. You won’t approach customers as a sales statistic or with an attitude that says you’re embarrassed to be a salesperson, but as a professional who is there to help. We should all be happy and proud to help people.

Control the context

Now that you have the right attitude, you may realize that sometimes the customer has something of an attitude problem. See if you recognize this situation:

You greet a customer and ask if you can help. “I don’t want to hear your spiel, just give me your best price!” replies the demanding customer. You think, "uh-oh."

The customer has imposed his agenda and taken control of the encounter. He has pushed you into a room that has only one door out and he’s standing guard.

Here’s the important question for you: In this situation are you going to abandon your professional position as someone who is there to understand customer problems and help them find solutions? Will you quietly acquiesce, give a price and slink away?

I suggest that you politely reassert your “context” into your relationship with this potential buyer and say that’s not the way you work. Explain that you’re there to help customers solve their problems and get the products that are best for their specific needs.

“If you can spare five to 10 minutes, I can help you out. If not, I can find another salesperson to help you,” you might say in closing.

As I admitted in my disclaimer, this won’t always work. However, it will work quite often and it goes a long way toward building a relationship that will result in repeat business. Even when it doesn’t close the sale, you maintain your pride and your professionalism.

There’s great value in that.


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