When the Buyers is Saying Bad Things . . . it is a Good Thing . . . for YOU by Kordell Norton
Your buyer calls in a panic. They were about commit to huge amounts of business, but are now asking for last minute concessions, extra conditions, better pricing . . . or else.
What was a solid sale, now looks shaky. What happened?
As sales people become more conversant in consultative selling, an advanced selling skill that is often helpful is to understand the psychological processes that the buyer is going through.
Several years ago, Xerox did research that focused on the concerns of the buyer through the various stages of the sale.
The Xerox findings indicated that there are four major concerns for buyers. (Note: Until I figure out how to put the Xerox graphic into the post you can view the chart at : https://kordellnorton.com/three%20phase%20of%20buyers%20concerns%20No%201.htm)
- “What are my needs? Are they valid?”
- “What the some of the ways I can find a solution?“
- “What is this going to cost me? How much will I need to spend?”
- “Is it worth doing? Does the risk of change out weight the risk of saying the same?”
During the buying process the importance of these four concerns raise and lower over time.
Consider the process of buying a car. When you first start the process, you consider your needs. Does it need to get good gas mileage? How big or small should I get? Is a status car a consideration? You also start with a rough budget as you consider costs. The exact car is not important at this time as you look at various makes and models.
As your buying activities progress you start to pick out a particular vehicle that has the right comfort level, gas mileage, quality ratings, interior space, and styling. For the first time risk starts to surface as you consider repairs, crash rating, insurance costs. Your needs are tempered at this point as you consider the whole purchase.
Toward the end of the purchase your concerns go through another change in priorities. Now that your solution and choice has been narrowed, you become very focused on the specific reliability of a particular car, perhaps taking it to your mechanic to “check it out”. To further minimize your risks, you check the internet for factory recalls as well as what others are saying about that car on the internet. Since you have a more specific car picked out, you do serious price shopping to see how much you can get for your money.
All purchases go through these mental processes, even down to the purchase of fast food for lunch. Should you risk the unknown restaurant, or lower your risk by going to a known national franchise? But even McDonalds can be risky . . .no?
The Three Phases of Concern for Buyers
So, like the purchase of a car, the buyer goes through similar areas of concern, based on where in the buying cycle they are.
Phase I – Shopping Phase
What exactly are our needs. Specifics are gathered. Rough estimates on what costs will be associated with solving their problems. What other people will be impacted? Which departments could influence the problems, but would have to deal with the purchase.
Phase II – Buyers Job
This phase is where the buyer brings in other vendors to cross check abilities and offerings. Other possible solutions are considered . Are there other ways to accomplish the same thing? They establish relationships with possible vendors in preparation to a future partnership.
Phase III – Taking Action with Consideration of Risks
The buyer is aware that these new products and services will impact the processes and products of their company. What happens if they purchase? What happens if they don’t? Do the risks outweigh the benefits? Is it worth upsetting the Status Quo with the new solution? Do I have the time and energy to buy this? How complex is the purchase?
By looking at the Xerox information (see charts) we can see that the buyer shifts priorities and concerns over the buying process. These changes are similar to the car buying example.
The feedback that the buyer gives during each of these phases can be misleading to sales people.
ESPECIALLY IN THE THIRD PHASE!!!!!
During the third phase, the buyer is having to make a decision. At this point they are not focused on their needs or the solution. They are asking, “if I acquire these goods and services, is there a risk? Will it come back to bite me? How much extra work will it cause me if it doesn’t work? Has this vendor done this before?”
These thoughts will spill out in comments to the selling organization WHO IS IN THE LEAD POSITION for the sale as negative. The sales rep will hear things from their buyer that will make them wonder if the sale is slipping away. What they really need to understand is that the buyers concerns are actually good news. It says that the buyer is in the final phase of buying and is doing their “diligence”.
It is often during the third phase that the sales representative is caught by the panic and they react negatively. They think that to cement the deal they have to make some concessions. Perhaps they feel they need to drop their price when doing so, they actually drive away creditability.
A panicking buyer is often a good thing. Instead of reacting by lowering price, or negotiating better terms for the customer the knowledgeable sales rep uses the buyer concerns to solidify their relationship and drive to closing the sale.