You spent weeks, if not months, working with your client to close the sale. Just when you think you finally see dollar signs in your eyes, your client decides to hand you off to someone else.
What just happened?
You just got handed over to someone else who may or may not give a damn about what you are selling. In fact, he may never even have heard of you or your company before.
Why did this happen?
First, your client wasn’t a serious buyer. Sure, he may have told you he was the decision-maker, but he lied. Don’t be surprised. It happens. In fact, it happens all the time.
Second, maybe your client is interested, but he’s too busy working on other projects, or suddenly, a personal or professional crisis occurred, and he has to break discussions with you temporarily. Because what he’s going through isn’t your business, he hands you off to some flunky or low-level employee to keep you busy for a while until he gets his affairs in order.
Third, he honestly wants a second opinion from an outside expert or consultant, so he decides to have an outsider hear what you are pitching. This happened to me once when I was selling password security software. After months of free trials and online tours, the decision-maker wanted to cover his ass, so he decided to bring in a cybersecurity expert to review the software I was selling. Was I confused and hurt? A little. But then I put myself in my client’s place – because this was going to be a significant order for him, he wanted to get a second opinion before signing the dotted line. If I were in his place, I probably would have done the same thing.
So, rather than get my feelings hurt, I decided to treat the outside consultant with respect. I repeated all my online tours. I provided him with all the information I sent to my client. I patiently listened to all his questions and answered them accordingly. In a couple of months, my efforts paid off – I won over the consultant, he became my advocate, and I got the large order.
How to avoid the hand-off?
First, make sure your client is the decision-maker. And in most cases, the decision-maker isn’t always one person. Sometimes decisions are made by a series of people in upper management or even by a committee.
Second, try to get a time commitment from your client. What is his deadline? Is there a sense of urgency on your client’s part to making a purchase? Or, is he just window shopping.
And finally, if you do get handed off, don’t panic. Depending on what you’re selling, the sales process could take a long time. Be persistent. Be professional. And if all else fails, there are other fish in the sea. And who knows, your current fish that you’re trying to reel in may just voluntarily jump on your boat when you least expect it.
A hand-off doesn’t always mean you’re getting the backhand. It just means you have to work harder to seal the deal.