Client conversations during sales prospectingcan often be like navigating a maze. Add their moods into the equation, and it becomes a more confusing puzzle. A normally hard-to-please client may accept your proposal quickly if they are in a good mood.
At the same time, a jovial client might give you a tough time if they just faced something that upset their mood. You might have prepared for your meeting thinking you know the client, but they might throw a curveball at you. It might sometimes feel like moving your chess piece forward and then realizing it’s a game of carrom!
Having such conversations professionally is important. It will teach you to be mature and prepared as a salesman and help you in nurturing good relationships with the client. It will show the client that you are equipped to handle sensitive situations and can stay agile in the face of unpredictability.
But when clients themselves can’t predict how their mood would be, how can you? How do you prepare for sales calls and predict potential client responses? How do you mentally prepare yourself after gauging their moods and determining the possible outcomes?
1. Hold a code of ethics
Your goal is to build trust with the client and win their confidence. This can be achieved if you have some ground rules and ethics in place. Irrespective of the client’s mood or requirements, these are steps you will always conduct. Your meeting won’t end until you get these out of the way.
Maybe you value honesty and always wish to bring it to the table. Let your client know upfront that you believe in this virtue and wish to withhold it throughout the meeting. Whatever questions they ask you, no matter how rudely or impatiently, will be answered with all honesty.
“I always bring hardcore facts and data to my meetings. During one such meeting, my client was in a happy mood and rushed through the meeting. This unsettled me as when the mood passed, they might return asking for details we didn’t discuss! With this on mind, I set my ground rules forward and detailed my research anyway. The client kept trying to stop me, but on my part, I got the formality done,” said a sales professional from an APAC agency.
2. Have a call beforehand (in case of an in-person meeting)
Having a prior call before meeting your client is always a good way to gauge their moods during qualification for sales. You can detect their tone of voice through the call, and you can prepare yourself on the way to the venue. You can learn more about the client’s expectations and frame your communication accordingly.
If they sounded annoyed or hurried, try to keep your meeting brief and short. They might get irritable and frustrated if you beat around the bush. If they attended the call trying to rush through, cut to the chase, and don’t start the meeting with small talk. It will make them angrier, and they might snap at you.
On the contrary, if they sound happy and relaxed on the call, treat them like an old friend you are meeting. Start with cordial greetings and make some small talk to ease the situation, then proceed with your pitch. The call before the official meeting will give both parties a chance to read the upcoming meeting’s mood.
3. Don’t sugarcoat things
If your clients are in a bad mood, you might feel compelled to tell them what they want to hear. If they question your budget or services, don’t sugarcoat or tone things down to pacify them. Never compromise or back down if it won’t work for your company. It’s not worth it to arrive at a deal in their favor if your company will be badly affected.
Keep your customer’s concerns and best interests as a priority. But your business and its needs are your focus too. If you sugarcoat things, their mood might not change, and their decision-making process will be affected.
Furthermore, it will create a fake foundation for your business which you will have to retain in the long run. If you back down during the meeting but show your true nature after the deal is closed, the client will stop trusting you. Keep your sales prospectingas real as you can and act consistently.
4. Don’t leave matters to speculation
Get things sorted and don’t assume anything. Yes, it’s good to read between the lines and hear what’s not being said during qualification for sales. But don’t assume things that are ambiguous or fail to communicate what you have understood.
“During a client call, the customer was very impatient and kept brushing things under the carpet. He kept saying we would revisit the details later and get the important things done first. In the end, he never brought up the points I wished to discuss, and I had to speculate on various things. It resulted in a huge loss for the company as the client’s unsaid expectations didn’t match our perceived promises,” said an account executive from an Asian agency.
Avoid issues in the future by communicating things today. Even if your client seems to be in a bad mood, take a moment to clarify things. A moment lost in clarification might result in a big blow for your business later. Just rip the band aid by requesting extra time — it might make or break your deal if things don’t play out as expected.
5. Follow up later
Be prepared to follow up with the client after a few days. Give them time to process what you have discussed and come up with an answer. It will help them get out of their mood — be it a good one or a bad one. Have a difficult conversation and inform your client that you will leave them to their thoughts for a while.
They can cool down and circle back to you later after thinking things through. In some cases, the infuriated client may calm down and reconsider their rejection. At the same time, a client who loves pleasing people may decide to cancel the contract once they have gone home.
Just because your client was happy during the call, doesn’t mean your deal is sealed. It is all a matter of letting them process things and leave the mood they were in when they met you. Things might play out in various unpredictable ways after that, so keep your sales leadership qualities in check.
6. Be an active listener
Be supportive and show the client that you are listening. Let them speak about their issues and patiently give them space. Get the full story out but don’t try to be their therapist and solve it for them. If they are in a bad mood, they will not openly share their business problems.
In such cases, you can only probe and listen to their body language. Take in as much as you can and connect the dots with your prior experience. Make the customer feel heard with customized solutions and heartfelt conversations. Give them the attention they deserve and genuinely care about what they are saying.
At the end of the day, we are all humans. We all face unforeseen situations and our moods change in minutes. You might have a client call but by the time you reach the venue, their mood might have changed. Maybe they had a personal issue revealed on the way or simply had a breakdown in the middle of the road.
These things are out of your control and all you can do is be empathetic and patient with their needs. Prepare yourself and stay agile during client conversations using our above suggestions and you can deliver great customer service. It isn’t just about solving their issues and handling their mood swings.
Good sales also involve following up with the client after the call once their moods have changed. A happy person might later reject your offer and a frustrated person might approve your proposal. Implement good communication skills and learn from various situations to improve as you go.
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