When we think about selling to our clients we’re often quick to think up all the reasons why they should buy from us.
- We’re the best at what we do.
- We offer a guarantee.
- They were referred to us.
- We’ve been in business many years.
- We have a unique process.
- They have a problem we can solve.
But clients see the situation from a different angle. You see, they usually think of all the reasons they should not buy from you.
This is because clients are conditioned to expect the worst.
They are scared of something going wrong, or of being let down, or of being made to feel silly or embarrassed.
To successfully sell our services or products it is critical that we carefully address the perceived risk that our clients have.
These risks can fall into one of six categories, depending on the type of service or product you are selling, and the familiarity of your client with their decision.
Remember… if a regular client is making a decision about a new service, then they may be just as unaware of what will happen as a ‘brand new’ client would be. So don’t assume that existing clients don’t have these fears – because they probably do.
The 6 categories of risk are:
- Functional risk – Related to performance outcomes
- Financial risk – Monetary loss and unexpected costs
- Time-related risk – Wasted time and consequences of delays
- Psychological risk – Personal fears and emotions
- Social risk – How others may think and react over their decision
- Sensory risk – Unwanted impacts: visual, sound, smell etc
In many cases clients will perceive potential risks from more than one category. For example, a new client of a dog-grooming service may see risks as:
- Will my dog’s coat be trimmed properly? (Functional risk)
- Will the job be done in a timely manner? (Time-related risk)
- Will my dog be happy about it? (Psychological risk)
- Will it be within my budget? (Financial risk)
- Will my friends be impressed when they see my dog? (Social risk)
- Will the equipment be quiet so my baby is not disturbed? (Sensory risk)
Admittedly, not every client will perceive all six areas of risk in each decision they make. The example above is just that, and example to show how each of the six categories may be relevant.
Planning For Success
When you are planning your sales approach it is worthwhile to consider the types of risk your client may be facing. If you do not think about this before hand, it is easy to be caught off-guard by your client during the sales discussion.
Follow this process:
- Think of the decision from your client’s perspective, and list all the reasons they may NOT want to make a decision.
- For each category of reason, list the things you need to explain to put your client at ease.
- Develop a series of questions you can ask your client during the sales discussion that will uncover these fears if they are present.
- During the sales discussion make sure you structure it correctly so that you can either ask the questions you have planned, or, listen closely to what your client is explaining, so that you can observe the presence of any of these fears.
They key to this process is to have a meaningful sales discussion with your client before you present your solution.
Gaining commitment – without objections
By addressing these potential risks during the sales discussion you can avoid creating objections that will arise when you try and gain a commitment from your client (close the sale).
If the client does not feel as though they have addressed all the risks/fears that were in their mind, they will not be comfortable making a purchase decision.
In some cases, simply by discussing the possible perceived risk you can help the client realise that it is not important to them.
But you don’t want to discuss all the possible risks that your client “may” perceive. This could end up in raising issues that were not originally on your clients mind, and might even scare the client away from making the decision.
So how do you know which types of risk you should discuss?
The answer is to ask your client.
You need to ask a series of questions that starts with more general questions and moves into more specific questions on particular issues if required.
Taking up our dog-grooming example, we can look at some possible questions to ask before we actually “sell” our solution/service to our client.
To identify if our client has any concerns about Social Risk, we could ask:
- Do you ever take you dog for walks in the park?
- When your friends come over do they see your dog?
- Is it important to you what other people think about how your dog looks?
To identify if our client has any concerns about Functional Risks, we could ask:
- How do you want your dog to look after the service?
- Are you aware that trimming the coat can remove the curls he has at the moment?
- Did you know that your breed of dog feels the cold quite a bit after they have been trimmed? Have you got shelter arranged?
To identify if our client has any Time-related concerns, we could ask:
- Have you ever had this service done before?
- Our services take from 45-minutes to around 90-minutes,depending on what is done. Does that fit in with what you had in mind?
Develop a standard approach for your business.
In my experience it is usually the case that for most businesses you will come down to a set of questions that become “standard”, as they apply to most clients. This means that over time, as you practice asking these questions, you will become familiar with them and know what to ask automatically.
This forms an integral part of your sales process.
By asking these questions you are achieving three important outcomes:
- Finding out what is really important for your client, instead of guessing.
- Demonstrating your knowledge and professionalism. This build trust.
- Avoid creating the objections that will arise when you ask your client for a commitment. By knowing the risks that your client perceives, you can present an option that will satisfy them, rather than presenting an option (or service) which the client will not feel comfortable buying.
Remember, the whole purpose of asking these questions is to identify if any potential objections exist, then minimise or eliminate them before they arise, and thereby close more sales with less effort.
If you would like to discuss how you can sharpen your sales process and win more business request a complimentary discovery call.