Have you ever had an uncertain client that gets your hopes up but never quite gives you a straight answer?
I’m talking about those people who you seem to vibe perfectly with you. The prospects whose lives you KNOW you could change with your offer. But for whatever reason, your conversations never seem to end in “let’s DO this.”
There’s a lot of promising talk, but not much definitive action. They say they’re really interested and schedule a sales call, but then they ghost on you. They tell you, “ask me again a month from now,” but when you give them a call four weeks later, they tell you the same thing. (“Ask me again in a month…”)
Was it something you said? Did you call too much, were you too annoying or pushy, or put out that desperate vibe?
Or was it actually not about you…but THEM?
It’s what I like to call the Uncertain Client Syndrome. They seem like they’re in but they never actually say YES. They play you hot and cold and you’re never quite sure where you stand.
If you’ve ever lived in limbo with an uncertain client, you know it not only makes you crazy but it also wastes your time. The time that you’d rather devote to people who WANT your help.
Some people really do want to work with you and just require a little bit more time to get ready. Others might like the IDEA of working with you but aren’t going to be ready for a “long-term relationship” anytime soon.
And you know what? Either case is OK. In both situations, how the uncertain client feels has nothing to do with YOU. Your only job is to recognize the difference between someone who is a potential keeper and someone who is just passing through. You need to recognize the red flags and let go of the prospects who are taking up your time and save your energy for the ones who love you back.
Most of all, you need to remember NOT take any of it personally.
How do you know the difference between an ideal client who just needs a nudge and one who merely enjoys the thrill of the chase (YOUR chase, that is)?
Let me share with you some of the red flags I’ve identified over the years. See if you recognize any of these in the uncertain clients you’ve been courting lately…
Sign #1: The client seems indecisive (or won’t stop objecting). Maybe your prospect keeps saying “I don’t know.” You might hear “it’s not the right time.” They might be haggling on the price. Maybe they have to “pray on it.” No matter how they say it, sometimes you can just feel it when someone is decisively indecisive.
Sign #2: They don’t give you a solid timeframe or deadline. Not too long ago I had a call booked in the afternoon at 3PM. My prospect frantically emailed at the last minute, wanting to reschedule. I was willing to be flexible and emailed them back an alternative time. And I never heard a word back from that person again.
What does that tell you? That this client isn’t all that serious. And that they probably wouldn’t be committed to doing the work even if you did take them on.
Sign #3: “I have to talk to my wife/husband/partner.” Sometimes this is a valid reason for putting off a decision. Other times it’s just a legit-sounding blow-off. Make sure that when you schedule a meeting with a potential client that all of the decision makers are present. That way you ensure that this common excuse is a non-event.
Sign #4: Make sure that your prospect is present (and not merely THERE). Think about what you do when you’re seriously interested in hiring someone. When you get on a call with them, you’re probably all-in and present. You take notes, ask questions, and make a genuine connection. That’s awfully hard to do when you’re driving, running errands, or trolling on social media, right? So if someone only finds time to talk to you when they’re otherwise engaged, that’s a hint that they likely aren’t taking the conversation (or the prospect of working with you) seriously. Take note of that before you agree to a call.
So when you get that uncertain client in front of you, be aware of indecision and excuses that indicate that they might not be ready for what you have to offer.
But let’s say that you have a feeling that someone just needs a little nudge. Maybe they’re the right one, but it’s not quite the right time. (After all, most deals require more than one follow-up, even with the ideal prospects).
What are some ways that you can stay on an uncertain client’s radar without investing too much in a “definite maybe?” Here are a few of my favorite tips!
Tip #1: Keep building that relationship. Follow up. Make it personal. Get the facetime going on Zoom, Skype, or your favorite technological miracle. Make a “real-time” face-to-face conversation every now and then, and do it consistently.
Tip #2: Make a deadline and honor your boundaries. Keep following up, but don’t wait forever. Make a decision about what you’re going to charge, remember what you’re worth, and decide how long you’re willing to continue actively pursuing an uncertain client. Make it a policy and stick to it.
Tip #3: Make sure the decision makers are involved in every meeting. This is the best way to pre-empt that “I have to talk to my…” factor. Don’t set a meeting without being sure that everyone who has a say in the matter is present and accounted for.
Tip #4: Get to the bottom of their objections. If they’re constantly coming up with reasons to say NO, maybe it’s time to dig deeper. What’s the real reason behind the hesitation? Now is the time to ask deeper questions and see if the truth comes out.
For example, if the price is the issue, explain more clearly what they’ll receive for their investment. If you’ve done a thorough job explaining what’s in it for them, it’s their call. When there are no honest reasons left to hesitate, the real reason why is likely to surface. Wait for it. And let this prospect go if you have to.
Tip #5: Offer incentives for quick action takers. Do you have a steal of a deal with primo bonuses for the go-getters? Now is the time to share it! I’ve found almost universally that those who YES quickly are the ones most likely to succeed when they work with you. Why not make an on-the-spot YES easy for the fast action takers by adding some special perks? (It also distinguishes super-psyched prospects from the lukewarm ones.)
Tip #6: Don’t get attached to the outcome. All that you can do in sales is show up, stand by your product or service with confidence, and make your case. The outcome isn’t up to you. So don’t pin your hopes, dreams, and self-worth on whether or not ANY client says YES or NO. It’s not always easy, but detaching from the outcome will save you all kinds of heartache. So make it a practice as much as you can.
At times it’s a delicate balance with uncertain clients, knowing when to stay the course and when to say “Bye, Felicia.” You don’t want to hold on to a lost cause, yet you don’t want to give up too soon on the right people.
Treat all of your prospects equally. Get to really know the person rather than just the prospect in front of you. Always trust your gut. And most of all, don’t let any prospect’s answer make or break your day.
Set your standards, value your time, and keep going. The right ones will eventually say YES when the time is right for THEM. Make sure that you either stay in the hunt or walk away when the time is right for YOU.
Are you wasting too much time on uncertain clients who won’t commit? Find out with my NEW quiz “Are Your Prospects Serious (Or Seriously Wasting Your Time)?” Learn if it’s time to wait it out or cut your losses with your prospects right HERE!