Yesterday I had a Facebook chat exchange with my friend, Chris. We were chatting about why people who know they need to change don’t buy when what is being sold will help them. Here are five reasons your prospective clients don’t buy and some ideas about how you can better serve them.
1. They haven’t yet reached threshold: Some of your dream clients haven’t yet reached threshold. They know that they have a problem, they know the status quo no longer serves them, but they haven’t yet reached the point where they believe that they have to do something. They don’t yet believe that the consequences of inaction are great enough.
Talking about the implications of inaction makes most salespeople as uncomfortable as it does their prospective clients (and for the softest of salespeople, they can’t fathom the thought of bringing up the negative implications of failing to change). But discussing the dire consequences is exactly what helps your prospect reach threshold. Ask, “What happens if you don’t change,” or “What happens when you run out of time?”
2. Too little value: Your prospective clients don’t buy when they don’t perceive enough value in what you sell. They may very much believe they need to make a change, and they may have reached threshold without believing that what you sell is the answer. People buy when they believe the benefit they receive from what you sell outweighs the price they pay for it. It’s easy to believe your buyer doesn’t “get it.” But helping them “get it” is how you create value.
To move a prospective client who doesn’t perceive enough value, you have to increase the perception of value. You have to help them see the value they are overlooking. Too many salespeople refuse to build up the value because they’ve been frightened out of pitching. [In my personal experience, I’ve recently made a number of large purchases where I’ve had to beg the salesperson to pitch me.] Say, “Can I share with you all of the ways I believe this is going to make a difference for you?”
3. Too much risk: What you sell may produce outstanding results. You might even have dozens of clients who are benefiting wildly from the outcomes you helped deliver. But unless and until your dream client believes they are going to experience the same benefits, the risk of not achieving those benefits will seem too great.
Because you know how something works and how it will benefit your customers, it’s easy to believe that they should know what you know. You have to help your customer resolve their concerns about their ability to execute and their ability to achieve the results you promise. Ask, “I want to make sure I have given you everything you need to support this decision. What else would you need to see to move forward?” Assume there is something left unresolved.
4. Not enough information: When you hear the words “I need some time to review this,” you can be certain that your prospective client lacks information. In a business-to-consumer sale, this is a clear indication that they are seeking more information, information that you haven’t given them. In a complex, business-to-business deal, it likely means you don’t yet have consensus.
To help your prospective buyer make a better decision, you have to help them with more information. You have to help by providing more information and more discussion. A lot of salespeople fear engaging the client here, worrying that they are overstepping their boundaries by not allowing their prospect time. They are shirking their responsibilities. You ask, “If you need more time, that’s usually an indication that we’ve haven’t covered something as well as we needed to. Can you share with me what your concerns are, and I’ll see if I can’t provide you the information you need?”
5. Too much fear: All of the above are really derivatives of fear. Your prospective clients worry about spending money. They worry about their image, what others will think of them. They fear you won’t be there to help them. They fear failure. They fear negotiating a poor deal and that you are claiming too much value.
The long and short of all of this is that you have to be prepared to help your clients deal with their fears in whatever form they manifest those fears. Much of the time, they fear the wrong danger.
Think about the last time you needed to buy something but hesitated. What did you fear? How could someone have helped you with that fear?