When buyers don’t buy, there is a tendency to either blame the product or the salesperson. However, there are a few additional factors that separate the winners from the losers. In numerous studies, how customers perceive salespeople, how they explore and research their options, and the circumstances surrounding the buying decision lead to some key factors you need to keep in mind as you approach the selling proposition:
The prospective buyer’s style. You need to establish early on what type of style the buyer prefers from a salesperson. Roughly a third of people want a salesperson who listens carefully and then matches the product to the intended problem/solution. A third of people prefer a salesperson who builds trust and who they believe will look after their long-term needs. And a third of buyers want a salesperson who will challenge their perceptions of a product and present options that the buyer hadn’t considered. Identify the buyer’s style and you’ll stand a better chance winning them over.
There is no committee. 90% of the time, it’s one person driving the buying decision. Don’t be put off when husband and wife tell you ‘they’ have to think about it. Don’t be put off when you’re selling to a company and ‘they’ will consider your offer the next time ‘they’ can schedule a group meeting. Typically – again, 90% of the time – one person does the extra research and is the one driving the purchasing decision and will sway the others to what they believe is the right choice. Figure out who that person is and concentrate on what they need specifically to come to a buying decision.
Market share dominates in most industries. Apple easily sells the most wireless headphones. Specialized and Trek are dominant in high-end bicycles. It’s not that you won’t thrive with 2nd tier products, but you will have to keep in mind that dominant brands with larger market share have top-of-the-line products, greater marketing budgets and more brand cachet. Study after study indicates that 2nd tier products can be highly effective if they have at least 90% of the functionality and 80% of the costs of products offered by dominant brands. Just be aware of these numbers and keep them in mind.
Charisma sells. Many salespeople believe buyers are rational decision makers. In reality, human nature is complicated, and a mix of factors — some rational, some not — determine how buyers relate to salespeople. Ultimately, it is the mastery of the intangible, intuitive human element of the sales process that separates the winners from losers. So be knowledgeable, listen carefully, and put a little charisma into your selling process.