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10 Ways To Win Over Skeptical Prospects

Image of Michelle Farnsworth
Michelle Farnsworth

Buyers are inherently skeptical — anyone who has been in sales for any length of time surely knows this. And indeed, buyers should be skeptical. They are responsible for protecting the interests of the company they work for, and you, the sales representative, are an unknown quantity. Here are actions a salesperson can take to overcome skepticism, to win buyers over as quickly as possible.

How to Win Over Skeptical Prospects

  1. Show prospects case studies of how your firm has helped other people or businesses save money and/or improve operations. The closer the case study subject is to your prospect (in terms of application and geographic location), the better.
  2. If your company displays customer reviews on the website, or if you have customer reviews on third-party review sites, send the links to your skeptical prospect ASAP. What satisfied customers have to say about your performance is more persuasive than any sales collateral.
  3. Take the prospect on a tour of your facility. Doing this obviously establishes you as a “real” company, and gives the prospect a chance to meet other members of your team. When a prospect sees you have bench strength and knows some of those players, it takes confidence and the overall relationship several notches higher.
  4. Take the prospect on a tour of a customer’s facility. This is like combining a case study and a tour of your facility into one. When the prospect sees first-hand how you have produced positive results for another company, he or she will start to believe in you. Really believe.
  5. Don’t overpromise. Salespeople sometimes create skepticism by making sweeping, grandiose statements that promise outcomes too good to be true. Even if such statements happen to be true, it is best to tone down the rhetoric and present facts, projections and predictions in moderated tones.
  6. Trial orders and on-site testing give buyers a chance to dip their toes in the water before making a big commitment. Companies sometime shy away from trial orders and on-site testing because they may involve taking a loss and/or investing a fair amount of time. However, if an investment of a few hundred dollars opens the door to thousands in revenue, it’s a good investment.
  7. Reviewing warranties and guarantees naturally helps skeptics gain the necessary comfort level to make a buying commitment. The delicate balance for the sales rep is to explain the warranties and/or guarantees without giving them too much emphasis. If warranties and guarantees become the focal point of the sales presentation, the buyer may start thinking, “This product must not be too good if the key selling point is I can send it back.”
  8. Samples and demonstrations speak louder than words. Of the two, demonstrations are definitely the better option. When you leave behind or mail samples to a buyer, you lose control of the sale — there’s no telling how or when the buyer will try the product. On a demonstration, you can point out the key features and benefits, and just as important, gauge the buyer’s response.
  9. Be detail-oriented, direct and fast. Two things sure to put off a skeptic: sloppy detail management and evasiveness. Thus, when a prospect asks a question, answer it clearly, concisely and truthfully — even if the answer is not exactly what you think the buyer wants to hear. In addition, if the buyer asks you to follow up on five items, be sure to follow up on all five and do it quickly. Efficient, honest work during the sales process tells the buyer your performance will be the same if he or she becomes a customer.
  10. Be patient. Sometimes, skeptical buyers want to drag out the sales process with questions and follow-up tasks solely to see how diligent you are (see point No. 9). So it pays to be patient. The natural tendency for sales reps when they encounter skeptics is to push harder. However, skeptics need to proceed at their own pace; they do not like to be rushed. Keep that in mind and your close rate with skeptical buyers will greatly improve.

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