Close That Sale: Convince Your Customer to Sleep On It

salesman-contractWhen a teenager asks a girl out, there’s a strong possibility he’s going to get rejected if he tries to pressure her into a decision.

Pushy salespeople suffer the same fate when they approach sales with a high-pressure mindset. They want a swift decision; the faster they close the deal, the faster they can move on to the next one.

But what’s the most likely outcome of either scenario? Neither one will have a long-term relationship after squeezing that “yes” out.

Why Sales Tradition Must Be Broken

Traditional tactics require that sales associates are demanding, forceful, and aggressive. These pushy salespeople are created by owners and managers who don’t have compelling products or services to offer. They know if they don’t close the deal right then, their chances of ringing the register drop drastically when the customer leaves. There are no “be backs” in their world.

This aggression further devalues the product being sold — and the brand being represented. When there’s high demand for an item, there’s no need to push it on someone.

And make no mistake: sales is a psychological game. Pushy sales tactics reek of desperation; the harder someone pushes consumers to buy something, the more doubt they create in buyers’ minds. Just like a girl being pursued for a date, a shopper will shrink back and keep his distance.

Initiating the Breakup

It’s true that a forced sale will create a relationship with a customer, but it’s a very short-term one. Everyone has spent money they later regretted and a high-pressure approach only feeds the fear of repeating those mistakes. People’s post-sale satisfaction will be low and they won’t come back again. What carries more value: a transaction at the register or a relationship with a new customer?

So what does a hard close look like? Perhaps you recognize one of these high-pressure tactics:

  • Scarcity of merchandise: If you convince people to buy your products with phrases like “There’s only one left,” you’re trapping people into thinking that one remaining item is their last chance at happiness.
  • Scarcity of time: Do you advertise with copy that says, “Sale ends tomorrow?” If you know full well you’ll be hosting another sale next week, you’re setting yourself up for failure when your customers realize there was another chance to buy.
  • Manipulation selling: “What would it take to get you in that car today?” is a phrase that is clearly intended to manipulate your customer. It undermines his intelligence and makes you look like a rookie.

Make Them Think It’s Their Idea

The reality is that a great sale — like a great relationship — is founded on interest and attraction. A “yes” isn’t going to make for a good date unless it’s backed by enthusiasm, curiosity, and some level of trust. Likewise, a good sale is one the customer felt was her idea.

Here’s why you want to establish a two-way street:

  1. People need time to process information. Put simply, the brain needs time to work through information (particularly if the decision is a big one), taking many factors into account. If a customer sleeps on a decision, his brain will work it out overnight.
  2. Reciprocity communicates strength. If you give customers time and don’t push them, you’ve created a “wow” moment. It’s counter to what others do. That highlights the strength in your position and immediately makes your product more attractive.
  3. More people can be involved in making the decision. If a customer is making a big-ticket purchase, she’s likely not the only one using the product. She wants input and validation from her decision-making partners. Getting that ensures all will be happier with the final choice.
  4. You will make more full-price sales. Many salespeople drop prices to close a sale. If you confidently send buyers away, knowing they’ll return, you’ll be able to make the sale at the original price.

Two-Way Relationships Go the Distance

The really wonderful thing about low-pressure sales is that this approach works for everyone. High-end car dealerships are experienced with it; many of their salespeople are so confident in their products that they border on arrogance. They cultivate an exclusivity in their products and brand name — they strongly communicate that not just anyone can leave the lot with one of their cars, and they encourage you to shop around. Where else are you going to find a Mercedes or BMW?

But the soft sell works for soft-serve, too. Frozen yogurt company Yoforia encourages customers to sample different flavors, learn more about their ingredients, and explore on their own. The sales associates never nag their visitors and as a result, they saw their sales increase 40 percent in one year. In a competitive industry glutted with options, their approach made a big difference.

Whether a teenage boy picks his date up in a shiny Mercedes or a limping Yugo, acting like he drives a Mercedes can pay big dividends. Dates — and customers — seek confidence, and that’s not found in high-pressure tactics. Encourage customers to sleep on decisions, shop around, and buy when the time is right for them. You’ll find yourself in a long-term relationship that’s completely mutual.

Related reading