Sales Management Digest
Nine Factors that Influence Buying Decisions
John R. Graham
At the heart of every sale lies a decision. Find out how and why your prospects make decisions and you're well on your way to finding out how to sell them. To help your prospects choose your product or service, you need to understand the different ways people make decisions and the thinking behind them. Learn these nine types of decisions, then capitalize on them to make sure your prospects make the right one.
1) Delayed decisions. Some prospects play the waiting game hoping that circumstances will eventually make the decision for them. Prospects who make delayed decisions may wait to express their interest until they have an immediate and urgent need for your product. When they do, getting the order may depend on your ability to deliver exactly what they need, when they need it. If your prospects won't make a prompt decision to buy, be prepared when they're ready. Make sure you know what products your prospects need, then make sure that you have ready access to them and can deliver them on short notice.
2) Decisions to please. Some of your prospects may feel a political or social obligation to buy from someone else, like the prospect who settles for a barely adequate insurance policy purchased from a brother-in-law instead of the better policy you offer. Think about how you can turn these situations from win/lose to win/win. Find out what shortcomings your prospect's current supplier has that your products or service would offset. Instead of forfeiting the prospect entirely, try to reach a compromise allowing your prospects to give you some of their business without giving up their current supplier.
3) Forced decisions. Forced decisions occur when prospects find themselves between a rock and a hard place. These decisions leave little time for information gathering and analysis, so the salesperson who wins is often the one who was in the right place at the right time. When your prospects have to make unavoidable decisions, make sure you're the first person they think about. Send regular promotional materials and make calls that keep you uppermost in their minds. Give your prospects everything they need to make decisions and place orders quickly and easily when they're under the gun.
4) Reactionary decisions. Your prospects may base buying decisions partly on what their competitors are doing. While you're gathering information on your prospects, keep an eye on their competitors as well. Try to anticipate what those competitors might do, how your prospects might react and how those reactions will affect you. Keep tabs on your prospects' competition, and use the information to help your prospects make decisions. For example, if you sell radio advertising and find out your prospect's competition is about to launch a major advertising campaign, you could suggest to your prospect that now might be a good time for them to buy some air time.
5) Personal preference or perception decisions. While you have to help your prospects make educated decisions, you also have to take their personal taste and the way they view the circumstances into consideration. Don't risk losing the sale because you and your prospects don't agree on what they should buy. Analyze your prospect's personal style and taste. As you outline your product's benefits, put yourself in their shoes and make a presentation that appeals to their personal taste.
6) Results-oriented decisions. Many prospects choose a product or service because it can help them meet a goal or achieve a particular result. Ask them about their personal and company goals, and describe how your product can help meet those goals. Estimate just how much your product will increase production, decrease down time, save money, time or effort in one month, one year or five years. Instead of talking about what your product does, emphasize the results of what it does.
7) Popular decisions. When it comes to cutting-edge technology or the latest gadget, many people don't want to be left out of the loop. Stress the importance of keeping up with technological advances and not appearing outdated or behind the times. Describe the volume of customers who have bought your product and are happy with it, and ask your prospects if they think there's a reason why so many other customers are so happy with your product.
8) Safe decisions. Many prospects hesitate to make decisions because they fear the consequences - that the product won't live up to their expectations, that it won't do what you said it would or perhaps that they might find another solution at a better price. It's up to you put their minds at ease. Offer a money-back, no-risk guarantee. Share testimonials from other happy customers. Say, "Mr. Prospect, I am determined to see that you are 100 percent satisfied. Isn't it more risky to do nothing than to at least give us a try?"
9) Power-based decisions. Sometimes you can get a reluctant prospect to buy by appealing to his sense of power. When faced with making a decision, some people fear the risk and question their authority to choose. To close tentative prospects, try persuading them by saying something like, "Are you sure you want to bother your boss with such a small expense? Can't you really make this decision yourself?" When you're presenting to a person in a position of authority, you may only have to remind them of their power to get them to buy.
You can make a presentation that offers all the right benefits at the right price, but if you don't know how your prospect makes a decision, you'll have little control over the end result. For greater control over the decision-making process, learn what factors and feelings influence your prospects to say yes. Once you know how they arrive at a decision, you have more power to steer them in the right direction.