Handling apathetic customers can be one of the most challenging situations a sales professional deals with. Before we get into the “don’ts” for handling apathy, let’s first define what apathy sounds like. Below are just a few of the types of statements you might encounter from apathetic customers:
- “We’re already working with someone else.”
- “We’re happy with our current vendor.”
- “I don’t really have time to get into this right now.”
- “The timing isn’t good for us right now.”
- “We are all set for now.”
So when looking at these statements, what is the customer really conveying? An apathetic customer is defined as a customer who appears indifferent to your product or service. Sales professionals most commonly encounter apathy from customers during the prospecting process while trying to engage a new customer in a conversation.
From our research here at Janek, we have determined three things that a sales professionals should never do when responding to apathetic customers.
Do not transition from a customer’s apathetic statement, such as “I’m not interested at this time,” or “We already have something like this in place,” into a scripted sales pitch. Recognize such statements from customers for what they are: a way to distract you and end the conversation. Therefore, the last thing that you want to do is go into a long sales pitch. This will only result in pushing the customer further away. At this point, you begin to sound like a typical salesperson, and the prospective customer will simply tune you out.
Do not knock their current situation. This type of approach can be common in industries in which you may already be familiar with who they are working with. When you begin to knock their current provider without establishing any sort of credibility or relationship, you appear as sounding unprofessional and desperate. You also insinuate that they made a bad decision by going with that company in the first place. When you are trying to establish a connection with a potential new customer, you certainly do not want to insult him or her.
Never push too hard for time when the customer obviously sounds or looks extremely busy. Admittedly, this can be a fine line, as the customer may simply be trying to blow you off. If the customer still sounds busy after you have attempted to overcome his or her apathetic position, it may be better to express concern for the customer’s time and then attempt to schedule a follow-up appointment.
Apathy can be a tough situation without the right sales training. Prospecting techniques such as those covered in our Critical Prospecting Skills program focus on these challenging situations and provide the tools necessary to turn an apathetic customer, into a prospect.