How to Close the Tough Customer by Offering Three Choices

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It’s a fact that not all customers are easy closes. It’s also a fact that if you give people three choices, they usually choose the one in the middle. When it comes to closing tough customers, you can make the latter fact work in your favor by getting them to agree — before closing — on an amount of money they’d be willing to invest should they decide to go ahead and own the product or service. Doing so really helps avoid the most common money stall of saying your product or service costs too much.

Offering three choices works equally well with tangibles and intangibles. The only thing that’s required is that you have three different options, including three levels of investment for the customer.

In your qualifying sequence, ask questions about the customers’ likes, dislikes, and general needs. The questioning should follow a linear pattern: Base your next question on the answer to the previous question, gently leading customers toward the solution you’ve determined is best for them. When you’re ready to ask the money question, the one that will give you the final determination of which product they’ll buy, do it this way:

Most people interested in acquiring a brand-new washer/dryer set with all the features you’ve indicated you need are prepared to invest $900. A fortunate few can invest between $1,100 and $1,200. And then there are those on a limited or fixed budget who — with the high cost of everything today — can’t go higher than $700. May I ask, which of these categories do you fit into most comfortably?

Most people want to be status quo, so your customers will typically choose the middle figure and note that they were hoping it wouldn’t be more than the amount they indicated. Your big surprise is that the item you’re leading them to — the best solution for their needs — is the most economical one. Produce your punch line by saying something like the following:

Then I’m excited to tell you that the model that meets your requirements requires an investment of only $700 — substantially less than you say you were prepared to invest.

What can they say? They’ve already said they’d invest the higher amount, so they can’t come back with the objection that the product costs too much when you tell them a price that’s less than what they said they could spend.

Here’s the formula for developing the triplicate-of-choice strategy for money:

  1. State a figure that’s 20 to 25 percent above the investment you think your customers should make.

    The investment you’d like them to make is the amount for the product that best satisfies their needs. Starting with a higher amount sets them up for thinking that’s how much the product they’ve indicated they want will be.

  2. Give a range from 50 to 100 percent above the amount you think they should invest.

    In the earlier example, this was $1,100 to $1,200. This is way above what you think they’ll want to invest, so when you offer the next amount — the actual amount of the product they’ll be happiest with — it will be somewhat of a relief.

  3. Give the actual amount as your last figure.

    This is the amount of the product that you feel ideally suits their needs.

  4. Ask which category they fit into most comfortably.

    Most people lean toward that middle figure, which is higher than you need to make this particular sale. They’ll commit to investing that amount of money for the product or service.

  5. Respond appropriately.

    If the customers choose the midrange figure, point out that the cost is substantially less than what they were prepared to invest. This is often a relief to clients because you’ve built their expectations for it to be a higher amount. This eliminates the money objection. They can’t later say, It costs too much, because they’ve already agreed to invest more than you’re going to ask for in the final sale.

    If the customers pick the lowest amount, remind them when it’s time to close that this was exactly what they planned to spend, again eliminating the money objection.

    If the customer should choose the highest amount, you may have misjudged their needs or they may be open to add-on options or services that you hadn’t thought they would go for. As with any client contact, you have to be ready and willing to change your course midstream to give them what they expect and what will suit their needs.

To use the triplicate-of-choice strategy to your best advantage, you have to know your math. You also have to know the investments for your various products very well. With some practice, you’ll be able to figure out the formula fairly quickly in your head and smoothly present the numbers to your customers.

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