One of David Sandler's classic selling rules sounds like a bit of a riddle when you first hear it: Don’t buy back tomorrow the product or service you sold today. Why would you ever do that? Who would want to? And under what circumstances would it possibly happen?
The truth is, this buy-back happens all the time. But we can prevent it. Sandler’s rule is about preventing the common phenomenon known as buyer’s remorse. And if we don’t take the right steps to prevent it, we really are buying back whatever we just sold to the prospect.
We've all run into situations where we received a “yes” from the buyer, and then for some reason, the relationship went dark. We couldn't get them back on the phone. Or they decided to cancel through email. Or maybe they contacted someone else in the organization and made it clear that they did not want to buy, even though they wouldn’t say that directly to us. The point is, we could never get face-to-face or voice-to-voice with them to use all our selling skills to figure out what happened . . . and maybe put the deal back together.
The key to avoiding that painful experience is to acknowledge that every time somebody says “yes” to us – whether we are face-to-face or voice-to-voice – that “yes” is conditional. No matter how positive the signals are at that moment, the client is still likely to experience buyer’s remorse once we leave. Our job as a sales professional is to walk them through the buyer’s remorse experience in front of us, so we can deal with it in person, and hopefully keep the deal from falling apart. We want to find a way to use our in-person selling skills to help the buyer navigate the predictable, emotionally difficult experience of doubt that often follows a purchase decision.
One great way to do this is to think of a minor objection that came up during the sales cycle and bring it back up for discussion. This kind of decision may run counter to our instinct to “close the deal,” but it needs to be part of our sales process. Here’s a quick example of what it might sound like. “Mary, I know you wanted the product in blue; we only have red. And you said that was going to be okay. I just want to revisit, before we conclude our discussion today, that red really is going to be all right with you.”
When Mary thinks it over for a moment and then says, “Yes, actually red is fine,” something important takes place. She has psychologically closed the file. She’s good. She’s gone through the process of setting aside doubt. And we helped her to do that!
It's part of our job to help people manage the fear, doubt, and worry they have about making the right decision, so we need to play the role of the psychiatrist here. We need to help them process their natural security, and then work with them to overcome it.
What David Sandler was suggesting is that we make a conscious choice to help buyers overcome those fears, doubts, and worries while they are still in front of us... so we don't end up having to buy back the product or service that we sold today.