How can I convince the client?

The same question kept cropping up in last month’s seminar and survey: are there any Tips and Tricks for convincing the client? This question assumes the belief that the sales person must ‘convince’ the client, and that a script can be used to guide the client, step-by-step, to a decision-making phase. Nice in theory, but you have to play the ‘numbers game’ to try and predict the result. You are using probability.

People look for a solid support in uncertain situations.

The more you try to grab hold of a client, the easier they can slip away. You’re sure to recognise it: the client doesn’t call back, or can’t make a decision, or even worse… is impossible to contact. With this mindset, sales organisations only reach a closing ratio of 1/10 or even 1/20. So you want sales people with lots of perseverance or you’re speaking in terms of: “selling begins when the client says NO”, “dealing with objections”, and “sales arguments”, etc. This type of scientific management based on figures feels safe. The results become predictable when you push hard enough. Is that why it’s so difficult to recruit (and motivate) sales people?

In B-to-B, when you are selling to decision-makers, this doesn’t work!

Decision-makers are generally more intrinsically motivated, and have an internal frame of reference. They rely on themselves. This is also how you can recognise decision-makers. There aren’t any one-size-fits-all solutions for this type of client. With decision-makers, usually at CXO level, selling is mostly a creative process. They first want to convince themselves with their own reasons. An effective sales person therefore creates a cooperative process whereby the client decision-makers make decisions for themselves. Premature presentation of the solution will create resistance or you will be sent back to the commodity quadrant, where you will once again be compared with all the many other suppliers.

Selling is an uncertain process, and herein lies your chance!

When I, as a sales person, am successful in formulating my questions in such a way that I focus on the client and assume they will make a decision for themselves (and they will!), then the outcome is that the answer can be unpredictable. (See also: Without any dialogue, your client will form their own opinion)


“What steps have you already taken to resolve this problem?

Possible answers:
– “We are having a look around on the market….”
– “We are in the final phase and will probably go with supplier xyz.”
– “We’ve been struggling for a year and have already contacted 3 suppliers, but none of them can offer us a solution…”
– “We’re going to leave our current supplier…”
– ….

The discussion can go in any direction and there is enormous potential in the different answers – if you listen and forget the script for a moment. at least… Have you got enough self-confidence to allow this?

Self-confidence = “guiding” instead of “directing”.

Outcome: the sales person doesn’t manage the script; they manage the process. These answers guide the client further in the decision-making process. You do this together with the client. Otherwise you lose all influence or “process power” because the client determines the next step (“send me a quote”, “call me back next month”). You then have to “hunt” the client because they are threatening to escape forever.

It’s a paradox: as with love, you have to relinquish control to have any influence. That is how you get commitment (because the clients decide for themselves) and how you regain control. But ‘guide’ is a better word than ‘control’ in this game of give and take.

Hopefully this is a tip or trick?

This strategy will at least ensure that you’re never without clients. You no longer have to manipulate and your self-confidence will get a boost – perhaps this is the strength of this approach. Sales people with lots of self-confidence should score better… they can listen better and radiate assurance. Clients need this for their uncertain purchasing decision.

Interested to find out more?

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Copyright © 2011, René Knecht