It was Sunday night. I was 11 years old. My identical twin brothers, both 12 years old, had been jerks to me all day. As the younger brother, I decided it was my duty to fight back. My father, a minister in the tradition of Jonathan Edwards, liked to decompress from being "on" all day and required that "the children" go to bed early, while he had dinner "in peace."
This was my chance.
My brothers and I all slept in the same room. I told the older twin, the ringleader jerk that day, that dad was discussing something secret about us kids with mom and that he should do reconnoissance to listen in. While he crept down the hall, I replaced his pillow with his saxophone case. Inside the pillowcase and in the dark, you could hardly tell. I then hollered from my bed, "DAD, SOMEONE'S OUT OF THEIR BED!" My brother flew down the hall and dove from the middle of the room into his bed.
2 minutes later, I got a spanking from the preacher man that could have been titled, "Sinner in the Hands of an Angry Dad."
Lesson: People hate surprises that hurt.
It's a truth every business person must pay attention to in our current economy now more than ever!
House prices are slowly returning. Some employers are cautiously hiring. Pocketbooks are cracking back open. Are we out of the recession? Who knows? But regardless of any good news and positive mojo out there, businesspeople are still hyper-cautious and doing everything they can to prevent surprises that could hurt their revenue and growth.
How does this impact you? It means your prospects want to try your product or service, scrutinize examples, project outcomes, review testimonials, check references, and guarantee results before they buy. In other words – they don't want to find a saxophone case in their pillow!
If you're not prepared for this hyper-caution in post-recession buyers, you'll lose sales to customers who may have trusted you in the past but are now required to "prove before the company will move."
Here are 5 ways you can remove these "no surprise" sales road blocks:
1. Offer conditional trials: Most often, businesses give away free samples or trial services without any plan to take a leadership role during the trial. Before the trial begins, agree on a result, a meeting time to review, and their next action. An example by a lead service might be, "If we can provide an average of 500 new solid leads for a full month, will you agree to a 12 month contract?"
2. Offer high-value-to-them, low-risk-to-you money-back guarantees. Your customers may have fears that you know are highly unlikely to ever occur. If your customer won't move forward unless you guarantee a completion date, and you know that you deliver 99.8% of every project on time, quell their nervousness with a money back guarantee for missing the agreed upon deadline.
3. Use an in-person testimonial. Have you ever brought a current customer with you to a prospect presentation? It's extremely powerful. Pay your customer's airfare or buy them dinner. Do whatever it takes. Talking to one of your loyal customers will fill in huge holes, transfer understanding, and provide confidence to your prospect that you can't convey.
4. Create crystal clear examples. Customers at times fear surprises because they don't understand what they're buying. It may be that your process, product, and result still seem cloudy and abstract to the customer. Create whatever it takes to help your customer understand exactly what they're buying. Use detailed infographics, high quality photography, professional-level videos, 3-D animation, and miniature models. Whatever it takes!
5. Be the poison checker. Wise kings had servants check their wine for poison before they drank. You're the servant. If you don't use your product or service yourself, quit your job. Lead your presentations by showing your prospects how you use and love the products and services you represent!
We're in an era where people want to know what to expect. They're more careful, cautious, and conscientious about spending than ever. Remove the possibility of surprise where you can and you'll find buyers who still love to buy!
Have an idea or tip to add? Disagree with me? Add your comment below.
And follow me for more ideas on sales and self-marketing on Twitter @AndyHorner.