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How to lose a customer in 5 replies

Updated: Jan 7, 2019



Whether you’re at lunch or at a conference, on a call or meeting to pitch your services, or at an industry cocktail event where, over small talk, you’ve discovered some partnership potential—there are basic questions you’re bound to hear, and answers you should never give.


Q1. Who are you selling to?/ Who is your audience?

A. “Oh, our product is for everyone.” No, no, no! Not possible. Even the iPhone is not for everyone. Know whom you’re targeting and why that makes sense for your business.


Q2. Who is your competition?

A. “We have no competition.” Ugh. Yes, you do. There may be nobody offering EXACTLY what you’re offering (read: this is why you’re different! This is your selling point!), but there are others out there doing at least some overlapping things, enough that they have made a business out of it. And you are competing for the same dollars.


Q3. What’s the main benefit?

A. “We have so many!” Face-palm. I am sure you do, but I asked for the MAIN benefit. There should be one that’s a differentiator. However, if you answer intelligently, you can cite up to 3. “We actually have 3 main points our clients really love about our product/service/thing. One is blah; two is bleh—which might be most interesting to you, Person I Am Trying To Sell; three is blee.” I will accept that. But do not tell me there are many and then start rattling them off. Or worse—don’t tell me there are many, and then not be able to list any! Focus and know your stuff.


Q4. What’s your cost?

A-a. “Let me tell you more about the benefits first.” (I infer: they are really expensive!)

A-b. “I will have to talk to my manager.” (I infer: person I am speaking to is too junior to make decisions that will impact me—get me someone else stat!)

A-c. “Let’s talk about that at the end.” (I infer: this person has a rigid, memorized pitch and therefore isn’t knowledgeable enough about the subject matter)

A-d. “Our price is flexible/negotiable.” OR “What would you pay for this?” (I infer: I cannot trust this person…and the business is in beta) Instead, always have a pricing structure, know your margins and how much wiggle room that gives you and what others offering similar things (and yes, there are others!) are doing.


Q5. Why do you want to do business with me?

A. “I don’t know.” And…next. Ideally, you should have an idea as to why I/my company specifically would benefit from what you’re offering. I might give you a pass if you answer along the lines of…”Our other digital content clients who play in the tech space have really benefitted from XYZ (and let me tell you how) so I thought you should know about it also."

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