The Tale of the Customer That Got Away
You can lead a horse (or customer) to water but you can’t make him drink (or buy).
We’ve all had them. The sale we thought we had. No, we were sure we had. Then it vanished “Poof” or slowly, painfully faded away.
Don’t you wonder what went wrong? Maybe you even feel a little naïve or gullible. “The customer led me on….”, you say.
Then comes the point that you have to admit it: to yourself, your boss, your partner. They’re gone. Maybe never to return. That can be the worst part especially if you have no real answer on how to avoid it happening again.
In my experience, three things may have happened but one of them is the most likely:
- An act of God (something you had no control over) changed their mind.
- You pushed too hard in your “trial closes” and they evaded you.
- You didn’t let them complete their “Buying Continuum”™.
Actually, the third scenario, not completing their purchasing process, encompasses the others and is the most likely.
These reasons for the lack of a sale take for granted that you have used your Platinum Customer Profile™ to find the best potential customer for your product or service. That makes it worse. By all rights, the customer who got away, shouldn’t have because you “chose” them based on that profile. “It just isn’t fair,” you think. “I did everything I was supposed to do.”
Not quite. Your potential buyer must go through that Buying Continuum™ and feel that they can accomplish their purchasing goals. Otherwise you can get all the way to the final steps and they will balk.
Anyone who rides knows that this is a true saying “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” That horse has to have decided it’s worth the effort and drinking meets its goals. I speak from experience. I’ve had a horse roll over with me in the water because he wanted to play in it not drink it even though it was 105 degrees out.
People aren’t horses but some things are the same. I didn’t know what was in the horse’s mind so he didn’t follow my lead. (Pardon the pun.) No matter how hard you try to understand your customer, you won’t do it much more completely than I understood that horse.
Your sales goal can’t be to understand but to get the potential customer to go through their purchasing process from their point of view. It will happen naturally but not if you interfere or are not supportive and encouraging.
As they go through it, you can lead them further towards the purchase commitment or cull them. It’s better to know early that there’s no sale coming than invest effort on a lost sales cause.
What’s your story about the customer that got away?