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Beware the Friendly Buyer

It's a honey trap, you go to see the buyer and he is dead friendly. You have a cup of coffee, two biscuits, maybe even three. Your discussion ranges over the way things are in the industry, how his company is doing and the big golf tournament.

Then you ask him for an order and he says, 'I can''t give you one at the moment, but we really like your product and as soon as we have (insert any one of a hundred possible excuses) out of the way, we will be buying.'

So you file this information away both mentally and in your computer and look forward to an easy future sale.

Eventually the awaited date comes and you make a call, and are given another friendly reception. You reprise the chat you had last time, then ask for the order again. Now It's another excuse, ''My boss is in Japan, I''m going to have to put it to him one more time. He''ll be back next month.'

Fast forward to then and you try for the third time. 'I've spoken to him and it's looking good. Remind me how much your quote was.'

But still no order.

This can go on for a year or more – then one day you call the company and ask for your contact only to find that, 'He's left the company.'

All that effort! Now hope turns into frustration and a touch of bitterness.

If you are new in sales, you can easily be suckered by a buyer who uses friendliness as his secret weapon for dealing with salespeople. The reason some people do this is that it's an easy way to get you off the phone line or out of their office without any antagonism or pressure. Perhaps they aren't good at saying no to a direct invitation to buy and this is their well-camouflaged avoidance technique.

My suggestion - before you 'buy' the friendly one's excuse, try closing hard.

'Jim, my boss is insisting that we close all outstanding enquiries one way or the other by month's end. Sorry to put you on the spot, but do you want us to supply the goods? I will have to tell my boss yes or no.'

There is always some risk in doing so, you might alienate a sensitive soul and lose an order. But experience shows that firm closing is the best choice if there is any doubt because;

  • It gives you a clear decision – puts an end to longing and hoping.
  • Some clients will make a positive decision and buy.
  • You feel better about it because you aren't being dangled on a string.

Be professionally cautious with the friendly ones.


If you enjoyed this article, take a look at my book.

How to Motivate Sales People manual


And if another challenge facing your business is recruiting an effective salesperson, see also


How to Hire a Really Good Technical Sales Engineer


More articles on better selling




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