Fear of Buying

By Lain Chroust Ehmann

Sales expert Tom Hopkins, author of How to Master the Art of Selling (Warner Books, 1994), says the hot topic from his students these days is how salespeople can help potential clients overcome their fear of decision-making. While many people use pat answers about the economy and greater uncertainty, the answers aren’t that simple, says Hopkins. Instead, salespeople need to recognize and deal with their customers’ fear at several different levels.

First and foremost in customers’ minds is the fear that they’re going to be taken for a fool. Even experienced purchasing agents and C-level execs have had bad experiences with salespeople in the past, and they don’t want a repeat performance. “There’s a degree of fear in any purchasing transaction. People are afraid of being sold. If you come across as a salesperson, based on past experiences they’ll put up barriers,” explains Hopkins.

The solution is to create a persona of trust so you move beyond their negative perceptions. The creation of trust, says Hopkins, begins the moment you meet a person. From the first second, the prospect is judging: Can I trust this person? Will he or she do what they say? Is he or she knowledgeable? You need to give them the ability to answer affirmatively on all counts.

To gain customers’ trust, do what you say, even if it’s something as simple as calling to follow up the next morning instead of putting it off until the next afternoon. Write a handwritten thank-you note that shows you pay attention to detail. Exude trustworthiness, even through the language you use. Hopkins encourages his students to look carefully at their vocabulary and excise any fear-producing words that, coincidentally, are common sales terms. For example, he suggests replacing commission with fee for service; down payment with initial investment; and contract with paperwork or agreement. While such substitutions might seem simple, it’s these small things that over time add up to you being a trustworthy partner.

Another fear decision-makers have is that they’ll “make a purchase for the company that doesn’t do the job, leaving their own job is in jeopardy,” says Hopkins. The solution is to reassure the customer that you realize how important it is for them to look good – and then show them how you’re going to do that.

Fear is not an issue you can simply address once and then forget about. Instead you must dismantle it, a step at a time, to create trust. All these little steps add up, says Hopkins, because it’s how you handle the little things that show customers how you’ll handle the big ones.

For more information, please click on www.tomhopkins.com.