How to Save a Sale Before It Walks Out the Door

With the right salespeople and tactics, you can make sure customers reach into their wallets before they leave.
Learn specific ways to keep a sale that seems to be on its way out the door. (Photo: Kinga/ Shutterstock)

A customer is browsing your products, seems potentially interested in one of them — then leaves without buying anything.

Is there something you could have done to save the sale? In many cases, the answer is probably yes.

Use these tips to avoid losing a sale and even sell more to the same customer.

Hire right


“You want an individual who can handle stress and is flexible and adaptable.“ – Michele Paiva (Photo: Michele Paiva)

Often a sale goes sour after a salesperson somehow manages to turns off the customer. The best way to avoid this, perhaps not surprisingly, comes from hiring salespeople with the right personality and skills.

A standard interview won’t reveal a candidate’s true colors, said Michele Paiva, a psychotherapist and neuromarketing and neuroeconomic strategist in the Philadelphia suburbs. Instead, try a teambuilding or role-playing exercise in which he or she interacts with a few current employees acting as customers.

“I believe hiring staff should gently push buttons a bit in the hiring process,” said Paiva. “You want to see resiliency. You want an individual who can handle stress and is flexible and adaptable.“ Paiva said she advocates challenging potential employees during the hiring process. “Encourage an opportunity for the person to showcase problem solving skills and the ability to handle diverse situations.”

Paiva also considers eye contact a priority. “Those who can hold a strong gaze can more easily connect to others on an intimate level,” she said. “Sales require intimacy. This is a key but often overlooked quality.”

Eye contact lasting about one to three seconds will help create bonding and trust, she said. More than that could be seen as pushy or even flirting; less, a sign of lack of interest, insecurity or untrustworthiness.

Look for cues a sale is slipping away

Sales staff should have radar for when a sale starts to slip away, said Anis Qizilbash, founder of Mindful Sales Training in London. Common clues include a customer who stops responding to or asking questions, or says, “I’ll think about it.”

“I’ll think about it” can indicate a mix of fear and confusion, Paiva noted. “The best response is, ‘I totally get it, because my job is to give you as much to think about as possible. Give me some of the items you’re on the fence about. This way, the more I know, the more resources you have to make a proper decision.’”

Communicating with customers in this way helps staff to connect and develop more rapport, she said. Plus, customers now feel like they’re being listened to, not just sold to.

“Don’t feel afraid to actually ask them to take time,” Paiva suggested. “This is the time to create an opening again.”

Educate, don’t sell

When customers start to waver, employees should make sure they understand all the features of the product or service as there may be hidden or tangential ones they don’t recognize, said Scott Eisenberg, CEO of Swap the Biz, a New York City-based networking organization. “Those other offerings may be of equal or greater importance.”

One example might be an appliance that’s more energy efficient than other models on the market, he said. Share with customers that it will save them money as well as help the environment.

Drew Stevens, a business coach and consultant in St. Louis, said salespeople should go beyond selling strictly on features alone, he said. Also convey the value the customer will derive.

“Need to buy is based on the value they actually receive from the products or services. When there’s focus on value, consumers will understand how they gain an advantage or appeal to their desires by acquiring the product.”

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