By Stu Schmidt – Contributing Writer, Entrepreneur and Coach.
In part one of our concerns-based selling series, Why Do People Buy?, I discussed a core truth central to everything we know about sales and marketing: For buyers, motive is everything. You can have the best product or service on the market, but it makes little difference if you’re not connecting to the motive of your target audience. How can you tap into that motive in a way that leads to more sales? It begins with recognizing buyer concerns. Let’s explore that topic for part two of the series.
I believe many B2B companies unintentionally get caught up in strategies—worthwhile and necessary strategies, I might add—like appealing to millennial buyers and embracing digital transformation initiatives that they forget one simple, hard-hitting fact that should inform their every move: Even if you’re in the B2B marketplace, you’re still selling to people, not just companies. Of course you should still leverage insight and tech to move your business forward, but you mustn’t do it with blinders on. Instead, whether you’re in the world of B2B or B2C, you should aim to appeal to the permanent and active human concerns of your human buyers—let’s get to those.
Consider, for a moment, that you’re on a conference call on your cellphone. In the middle of an important discussion, a family member calls. You see the name on your screen, but you let it go to voicemail and vow to call back after your work conversation is over. Instead, the family member calls again immediately. Walking the tightrope between annoyance and budding worry, you ask your colleague to hold for a moment so you can briefly take the call and let your family member know you’ll call back soon. Instead, when you switch over, you hear an anxious, frustrated, and obviously scared voice letting you know someone you love is on the way to the hospital.
Although this is hypothetical, I bet you’ve just experienced some adrenaline. What that scenario triggered was a primal, permanent concern—the health and well being of you and those you love. Just because that concern isn’t always triggered in times of good fortune does not mean it is any less present. And, once triggered, it takes precedent over everything—you have no choice but to act on it.
We can learn something from this example. Every consumer has permanent concerns akin to those represented in their hierarchy of needs. Let’s look at a different concern that’s not nearly as primal but still very important, especially from a sales and marketing perspective: The value a person places on his/her identity, reputation, and stature in a company, falling under the umbrella of “career advancement.”
If a person values career advancement as an active concern—and many do, by the way—is the profitability of the company going to directly validate that concern? Is selling more for the purpose of making the company more money true motivation to excel? Unless there’s a robust profit sharing program or you’re dealing with a business stakeholder, the answer is no. Getting a raise or a promotion is more important to most people than improving their numbers for the simple sake of saying they did it.
So, how can your business navigate the sometimes murky water surrounding permanent and active concerns? You can start by remembering that organizations fund and people do the buying. In order to effectively get your message out in front of people, you must trigger or provide value to an already triggered concern.
After you’ve learned to recognize buyer concerns, you can then begin to anticipate them—something that adds incredible value to whatever you’re selling and can turn hesitant buyers into long-term brand advocates. In part three of the concerns-based selling series, I’ll cover precisely how to anticipate buyer concerns in a way that can lead to unmatched growth for your business.
In the meantime, have you made a conscious effort to recognize the concerns of your buyers? You can’t really move forward until you’ve discovered already-triggered concerns and learned how to trigger budding ones to your advantage. If you’ve had success here thus far, share your tips below. If you’re struggling, how can I help? Let me know in the comments.
By Stu Schmidt – Contributing Writer, Entrepreneur and Coach