Mitigate the buyer’s uncertainties by probing like a doctor

 You notice that the damaged machine belongs to a competitor. You start salivating. Don’t! It is not an invitation to a sale.

Buying means changing and chancing. Abandoning the familiar and risking. The risk could be reputational (Will we end up with egg on our face partnering with this new firm?) or financial (will we get value for money?) The instinctive reaction to both is to resist, hesitate. It’s the seller’s job to mitigate this uncertainty with assurance. How? First, by eliminating your smug of self-righteousness; that you already know his problem and what you are selling is a panacea to it. Much like a ‘psychic’ doctor who has pre-written prescriptions he flashes at the mention of “I have a headache” by the patient. If you were the patient, your feelings of change and chance would be more energized than assuaged. You would become defensive and the sale would abort.  Yet, this is how average sellers sell. They push their wares, inspired more by the opportunity of making a sale than meeting what the buyer needs; or, convinced it’s what the buyer needs (and maybe rightly so) and wondering why the buyer isn’t lapping it up. Well, now you know. The buyer is seeing your product or service through the lens of changing and chancing. He needs these addressed first.

So, just as a doctor normally does, explore the cause of the buyer’s ‘headache’ through asking insightful questions. “We have lost two of these machines because the fuse blew.  We are wondering what the problem could be.” You notice that the machine belongs to a competitor. You start salivating. Don’t! It is not an invitation to a sale. It’s an invitation to shed light. It is not an invitation to insert the reliability of your machines into the equation as if to rubbish your competitor’s; it is an invitation to address the customer’s concern as if it was your machine that had blown the fuse. You certainly wouldn’t say, “You know, it’s true, our machines are lousy. Here, take this card; talk to this sales person from this company. They have solid machines.” Absurd? Well, that’s precisely how you sound to the buyer when you instantly dismiss his problem as “It’s the competitor’s machine that’s faulty. Here. Take ours.” Instead, you are more likely to probe, prod and poke with questions like, “What was the factory running at the time it happened?”; “How experienced was the person using it?”; “Are there other machines that have faced this anomaly?”; and so on. In the process, you may discover that there’s a family of rats that has made a home in the factory to escape the rain. And mother rat has been nibbling at wires exposing them to a short-circuit, and blown fuse! Yes. I know. You won’t make a sale. But you’ll have mitigated the risk of dealing with you in the future. Plus, if you had made the sale, your machine would have blown too. Then what?

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