When the buyer asks why he should deal with you, it’s not facts he seeks, it’s emotion— a hand in marriage. “Why you?” she asks and he says, “Because your friends will be jealous of you for bagging tall, dark and handsome me. ”Vain? Yes! And that’s how you also sound when you rattle off your product’s benefits….

More sales are lost by the salesperson sabotaging himself, than because there wasn’t much he could do. Here are three land mines and how to sidestep them.

Assuming that what is important to you is equally important to the buyer.

It’s not. It is understandable though why you would think it is. After all, the internal sales training excitedly harped on how your company is innovative and offers a courtesy car in the event the client gets an accident. It harped on the features. And so, you assumed the buyer will be excited too. Until he stared blankly at you, when you regurgitated, “We are innovative and will offer you a courtesy car”, and the sale was lost. You see, the buyer was wondering how that piece of information was of benefit to him. Plus, it’s the same thing the other three insurance agents said.

To avoid this land mine, start with how the feature benefits the buyer and end with what it is. And avoid jargon. So, “There will be no disruption to your mobility when your car is undergoing repair because of an accident. This is because we will provide you with a replacement vehicle.” And, “We will mould our products to accommodate your needs because, like you, innovation runs in our blood.” (Assuming, they claim to be innovative too)

So why should I do business with you?

Usually asked in Business to Business (B2B) selling or by an executive, this is a loaded question. The typical response is to rattle off the benefits of your product or service. Courtesy of the Internet and his industry networks, the buyer is probably already sold on this. Therefore, it’s not facts he seeks, it’s emotion- a hand in marriage. “Why you?” she asks and he says, “because your friends will be jealous of you for bagging tall, dark and handsome me.” Vain? Yes! And that’s how you also sound when you rattle off your product’s benefits. Try instead saying the business equivalent of, “I don’t know what my future holds but whichever version I imagine, I see you in it.”

You see, the buyer wants to know he can trust you (he is bound to be sharing sensitive information and doesn’t want to keep changing ‘lovers’). And, he wants to know that, just as his business, you are in this for the long haul. So try, “The nature of your business calls for confidentiality and trust. This is in tandem with our DNA; we would rather forgo a relationship, even this one, than have to compromise on our preference for a long term relationship. That’s why most of our clients have been with us for over 7 years. It’s why we also chose you and hope you will choose us.”

Not understanding how the customer buys

Instead of complaining that Technical is sitting on your proposal, find out why. It could be the manager needs to make a business case to Finance to approve the purchase but he is lazy or has other priorities. “I’ll need some figures from you, and with your permission, do the business case for you to ‘mark’ and forward to Finance. Is this ok?”  

Or, when selling a house, almost always it’s the man whom you’ll be pitching to. Inexperienced sellers will keep wondering why he is not acting yet everything financial pans out. Well, he’s not buying because he’s not the one making the decision-it’s the wife. But he’s a man and doesn’t want to admit this. Try instead. “Buying a house is a major decision. Because the home is an extension of a woman’s personality I find it helps when they are involved in the purchase. May I call your wife to arrange a site visit for the three of us or would you rather do it yourself?” And when you are on site, and to accelerate her decision making process, make the closing pitch in the kitchen.


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