How often have you been in negotiations with a prospect who then thanks you for your time but decides not to make a purchase?  Quite a few I suspect.

But what do you do in this situation?  Do you just thank them and ask them to get in touch if they are interested in the future?  If so, you may be wasting a valuable opportunity!

Apply this customer research technique to increase future sales

When a prospect declines to buy, ask them why.  Now this doesn’t have to be confrontational so they feel as though they have offended you.  It can be done in a very gentle customer research type of manner that makes the prospect feel valued and will give you a far greater insight into how to achieve future sales than anything else out there.

Simply ask the prospect what would have prompted them to buy from you today.  Ask them what you could have done differently.

Some people may be too embarrassed to tell you the price is too high or the product not good enough so may say something like ‘I just can’t afford it at the moment’ or if you are a service industry, ‘I don’t have time at the moment’.

This is where you can then start to do some gentle drilling down to find out the real reason they haven’t bought from you and what you can do about it.

They can’t afford it

If they say they can’t afford it, ask them if they would buy if you gave a discount or offered flexible payment terms.  If they still say no, you know that price isn’t the real reason they didn’t buy and something else is stopping them.  Say to them something along the lines of ‘so price doesn’t seem to be the real issue and I feel something else is missing for you in what I am offering.  If the price was right, what could I offer that would make you want  to purchase today?’

It’s not the right time

If they use the time excuse, ask them when they think the time will be right for them, how much time they think they need etc.  Ask them the question ‘so if I call you in two months’ time will you be making a purchase then?’  If they say maybe or they will think about it at that point, again, time is not the real reason and you need to ask the same question as previously of ‘so time doesn’t seem to be the real issue and I feel something else is missing for you in what I am offering.  If the timing was right, what could I offer that you would like to purchase today?’

Hopefully, you get my drift and you will find different questions and adapt them to your business and answers given.  It can take practice to get this right but if you can do it, this valuable customer research will really help you find out so much more about people’s needs and wants and how your product or service can fulfil those.  You can then change your offering to attract more sales in the future.

All through the questioning make sure you keep an easy conversational style rather than conducting an interrogation and make sure the prospect knows that there is no pressure to buy but that they will really be helping you with your future business offering.  Maybe you would like to give them a small token of appreciation for co-operating such as a voucher for future use or a small gift or taster session.

Be brave.  Give it a go.  And let me know how you get on with this style of customer research in the comments box below or over on the Facebook page.