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Concerns Based Selling Series: Anticipating Buyer Concerns

anticipating-buyer-concernsBy Stu Schmidt – Contributing Writer, Entrepreneur and Coach.

This marks the halfway point of our concerns-based selling series, and I’ve covered quite a bit thus far. You’ve learned why people buy—i.e., how motive informs consumers’ purchasing decisions—as well as how to recognize their permanent and active concerns. Just knowing how to discover those concerns isn’t enough, though; you need to be able to anticipate them in a way that adds value and grows your business. Here’s a guide to show you how.

Four Steps for Anticipating Buyer Concerns

It’s been widely postulated that there are certain things genetically coded into our brains, both environmentally and culturally, that contribute to our hierarchy of needs. In other words, particular needs are commonly important to culturally similar people. If you can anticipate those needs based on who your consumers are and what is important to them, it can be very powerful from a marketing and sales perspective. Here are four steps to getting it right:

Step One: Identify the buyer personas involved.

Knowing your buyer personas is critical to everything about marketing—how you shape campaigns, how you engage your audience, how you leverage content, and so much more. Personas are not developed by “winging it.” Instead, they’re products of data and insight—a testament, really, to the power of analytics and segmentation. Identify the buyer personas that should be at the start of your customer journey mapping, then proceed to step two.

Step Two: For each buyer persona, brainstorm what is important to them—both personally and in business.

Remember—even if you’re a B2B, you’re selling to people, not companies. Identify what matters most to your target audience. You might think you already know, but dig deep. Keep coming back to this step until you’ve got something you hadn’t thought of before.

Step Three: Clearly identify how your value takes care of those concerns.

If there’s something specific in your value proposition that would resonate with an activated concern of one of your buyer personas, can you build a campaign around that? Can you shift an existing campaign to add emphasis to it? On the other hand, if you can’t see how you’re adding value that addresses anticipated concerns, it might be time to do some reconfiguring.

Step Four: Strategize for forward motion.

Once you’ve completed steps one through three, it’s time to develop strategies to identify already triggered concerns and trigger nascent concerns. This starts with one powerful, yet sometimes overlooked, approach: Asking. Questions are powerful, especially when it comes to triggering those budding concerns. If you’ve anticipated the concerns correctly based on buyer personas, you can pose questions and frame campaigns to draw out and leverage those just-below-the-surface needs.

Example: The CMO

Just to break this exercise out of the land of the hypothetical, let’s apply a real-life example: The CMO (or VP of Marketing, etc.). I can anticipate a few of the things that matter to a person in this role: Impacting company growth, boosting brand recognition, lowering cost per lead (CPL), increasing lead conversion ratios, improving relationship with sales leadership, being recognized by a boss as someone who can drive alignment, and more.

Once you’ve anticipated those concerns, you can look at your own organization to determine what value you add that directly addresses them. Then, start asking questions about how to turn that value into conversion.

What’s Next?

There’s another important consideration to anticipating buyer concerns outside of the four steps above: Failure. What if you do everything right and still lose the deal? Can you identify what went wrong?

I’ll explore this in-depth in part four of the series, but the question brings up something relevant to what we’ve discussed today: There will be instances where other buyer concerns take priority over the concern related to the value your business brings to the table. What then? You can’t satisfy every need, and trying to is a waste of energy. If you have gained and continually strive to retain mindshare, though, you can capture that missing business when your concern finds its way back to the top of the pile. The trick is to stay relevant.

Does your business participate in customer journey mapping? If so, are you doing all you can to make sure the needs of each buyer persona is met, both now and in the future? If you have questions about the process, leave them in the comments, and I’ll be glad to help.

By Stu Schmidt – Contributing Writer, Entrepreneur and Coach
Twitter: @connectedseller