Sometimes, when trying to persuade someone to buy something, you’ve got to do more than convince them of the benefits of the product. Many times they are clearly sold on the benefits of the product but are, infuriatingly, humming and hawing. Sometimes what is required is to re-list the benefits, applying emphasis on the most relevant ones to the person/people you’re speaking to. But there’s a limit to using repetition before it becomes, well, repetitive – and counterproductive. So, it's time to change the record over.
So, what’s the mystery here? They are on the verge of saying yes, convinced their lives would be made better by buying and yet they have not uttered the 'Yes' word yet.
At this stage features and benefits won’t do it. Why? Because it’s not the product they are doubting. It’s probably not even the salesperson they are doubting. No, what they are doubting is the sales process. Suddenly, being confronted with a small life change, a reduction in their available funds, or even just confronted by having to do something they hadn’t planned to do that day, they are scared, almost like a rabbit in the headlights.
So what you have to do here is simply introduce not features or benefits – you’ve already done that - but 'comforts'. You see, its reassurance the prospect seeks at this stage, nothing more or less. You have to make them feel that the world will probably not end if they go ahead.
What is a comfort? Well, depends what you are selling. When I sold in my record shop I used to love piling LPs into a prospects hands so that they were going home with a stack of records rather than just one. Of course I had to have learned quickly what they liked and what they would experiment with. I knew my subject (a key to selling anything, and a key to reassuring your prospect).
One example I remember is a lady who was buying 6 LPs and the bill had crept up. Obviously I gave her a volume discount. But I could see she was dithering, like she was waking up from the sales spell. The records were perfect for her and the value obvious. So, to comfort her I said, “We have a no quibble returns policy. If for any reason you don’t like any record bring it back. No time limit, no small print. I don’t want you to have anything you don’t want. Because I can sell it anytime.” She looked at me with great big grateful eyes and instantly she felt that it was safe to buy. She added, “Wow, what a great policy. You must get loads of records back.” I answered her truthfully that we’d never had one back, adding that people just like the comfort of knowing they won’t get stuffed. Few people have ever been in awe of me but she thought I was some kind of angel.
Just at the moment of the consummation of the sale, both of us glowing contentedly, a pain in the ass customer from weeks ago burst in, interrupting everything and – you’ve guessed it – yelled to the whole shop that he had a record to return because it was scratched. I mean, what the hell were the odds! I was stuck for words and he ran rings round me, shouting at me that he doubted we’d honour our 'no quibble' policy. However, I didn’t even look at the record, and just said, “No problem. How much do I owe you?” He looked disappointed that there was no fight to be had. He claimed a tenner although I knew we’d only charged him £6.99. I just went to the till and gave him it. He left, moaning about the terrible service as he retreated from the shop.
The lady turned round towards me, during an awkward silence. I expected her to throw the records at me, call me names, and then run off. However, what she actually said was, “Wow, you were right. No quibble indeed. Can you bag these up and I’ll have another wee look around.”
She bought around another 25% on top. She was reassured. She became a regular and never once returned a record. I confided to her months later that she’d witnessed the only time we’d ever had a records returned. Unbelievably, during that chat, a girl entered the shop with a copy of Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, asking if she could change it. But it didn’t matter. The lady was reassured for life regarding our service.
By Bob Smith who has worked in sales for more than 30 years, works as an experienced recruiter, trainer & motivator and is also a published author of both children’s and adult titles.