Understanding and Handling Apathetic Customers

In the resting phase of the buying lifecycle, you’re going to run up against the apathetic customer. That’s someone who is fully or partially satisfied with their current business solution and doesn’t have the mental bandwidth for seeing the value a salesperson is proposing. Ms. or Mr. Apathy’s impulsive response to a sales overture goes something like, “Not interested,” or “We’re all set,” or “We already have a solution in place. See ya!”

This will be especially the case with new leads and prospects. With existing customers, you’ll sometimes arrive at a dead-end response when you go down the road of discussing new products and ideas you think could grow their business.

Don’t Try This at Home—or Anywhere
The biggest pitfall a sales person can make when encountering apathetic customers is to try to prove a point or jump into a pitch about why the customer really needs to onboard with their product or service. Here’s why that’s a bad idea: Even if you’re peddling dinghies in a flood, the customer has already said, “I don’t have a need for that.” If your response is to try to convince them that they do need it, you’ll never get to the buying phase, or even close to it: The customer has already decided they don’t want to talk to you.

The Softer Side of Selling
When you hear “not interested,” cut through the tension by establishing that you get that the customer is happy and satisfied with the product or service they’re currently using. Then make the case that your aim is to have a conversation with them to determine if your offering is a better solution or if it could supplement what they already have in place.

It behooves you not to try to hard-sell the apathy-ridden; instead get them to keep the door ajar and have a conversation with you—no commitments, no regrets. Remember, at this stage in the buying lifecycle, they haven’t butterflied into a full-grown purchaser yet.

Let It Happen Naturally
In other words, brave sales rep, it’s all cocoons for now. Put down the butterfly net and forget selling for a moment—what you need to do is earn the customer’s trust enough to get them to buy into talking to you. Once you’ve overcome that customer hurdle, you can ask questions that lead them toward the light of awareness that they actually might need your products or services. It’s an organic process: The customer with the mindset of “Go away; I don’t want that” will have to flap their own wings toward the awareness that they might have a hole you can fill. This isn’t the time to sell, because it’s very likely that the customer isn’t ready to buy. Your role is to get them to the conversation phase and let their minds do the rest—in the meantime, you need to relax and give the hard sales pitch a rest.