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Seller's Remorse

August 6, 2013

We’ve all heard of buyer’s remorse.  Its that time after you make a purchase where you regret having made the decision.  Sometimes it imagined – a form of a brief panic attack – and sometimes its real, like choosing a house (or anything else you need to live with for a long time) for the wrong reasons and truly coming to regret it.

Remorseful ManSeller’s remorse is something we don’t experience as much, but is just as real. On a personal level it may be when you sell something you really wish you had kept (my Audi Allroad is still missed for example). For a business owner or sales manager, it comes in the form of the client that you wished you had never written the proposal for, or that customer that bought, that you just knew as you took the payment, that they would be back again (and again, and again) and never with good news.

The best way to get rid of seller’s remorse?  The best way is to avoid it all together. To do this, you have to have a process that recognizes your ideal and good customers and also identifies potential problem customers before they purchase (or before you write a proposal).

We’ve written a lot about your ideal customer so we won’t go into that in detail here, but as a quick reminder, your ideal customers value your product or services, they are profitable to work with and they refer you.  Your good customers are similar; they just don’t actively refer you (but may be a reference when asked).

So how do you identify the customers you’ll love versus the ones that drive remorse, in advance? You need a process, a plan. If you’ve spent time understanding your ideal customers, you’ll understand what drives them. You can understand their personal or corporate belief system, and you can make sure you are asking questions that help to identify these same characteristics in potential customers. And to screen out the bad apples in advance, you also need a set of questions. Those are the questions they are most likely to ask that will tip you off.

It may be questions around price or delivery. It may be questions around reporting /support /help.  It might be questions about your guaranty.  Whatever they are, the questions they ask are important to them.  The tip to you is how they accept (or don’t accept) your answers.

As example, we sell consulting and marketing services. So one of my favorite questions to ask potential clients is how they go about making decisions and evaluating options to solve their problems.  The answer tells me a lot. And when they start asking questions like “how long until we see our first lead”, I start to hear alarm bells and begin to ask a lot more questions to better understand their expectations, what they consider a lead, their sales process and more. Marketing and business development is a long term investment and if all they are looking for is someone to execute a single, quick, lead generation program, then we aren’t the right fit for them. Or when they use advertising and marketing as interchangeable words, I know I have a lot of education that needs to happen if I want to even consider having them as a happy client.

The second best way to get rid of sellers remorse?  Fire the client. Or if you would rather not have it be so harsh, pass them off to your competition.  The phrase “ I don’t think we can really help you the way you are looking to be helped – you may want to call X or Y” works magic.

The worst way to deal with sellers remorse?  Do nothing and avoid dealing with them. Eventually the customer will get angry, frustrated or belligerent. And if you aren’t talking with them, they are talking to the world on a social media site.

So if you’d like to have a conversation about never having seller’s remorse – profiling your ideal client and putting processes in place – give us a call.  And if you have a story of your own seller’s remorse, we love to have you share it in the comments.

Topics: strategy Sales

Dan Kraus
Written by Dan Kraus

With more than two decades of experience in sales, marketing, and go-to-market strategies, Dan Kraus has developed a deep portfolio of experiences that he now uses to help small businesses profitably grow their businesses. As an entrepreneur, Dan understands the challenges of growing a business with limited capital and human resources. As a line of business manager in larger companies such as SAP America and Great Plains Software (now part of Microsoft), his experience launching new business ventures inside reputable organizations established his reputation as a creative and effective executive that could both plan and execute within corporate confines.

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