A decision to buy is motivated by the need to find solutions to current or anticipated problems and buyers ask rational questions such as:
- Will this new equipment improve efficiency and productivity?
- Will these new boots keep my feet warm?
- Will this professional development training help me improve my skills?
However, these rational questions are just the beginning: as my former sales manger was fond of saying, “people buy on emotion, they justify with logic.” The questions a buyer asks at a subconscious level may look more like this:
- Will this new equipment reduce my stress about efficiency and productivity?
- Will these new boots keep my feet warm and will this brand make me part of the in-group?
- Will this professional development training help me improve my skills and will it help me get noticed for promotion?
As humans, we are wired to be cautious and risk averse. An unfamiliar buying decision creates an emotional tension that must be resolved before any decisions can be made. However, we rarely identify our inability to decide as a symptom of that emotional tension. Instead we justify it with some logic metric such as timing or budget. We lack internal transparency.
A skilled sales professional understands that transparency is a two-way street.
The buyer expects transparency from the seller and, to be successful, the seller must help the buyer become transparent too. Salespeople achieve this by asking good questions throughout the sales process. Questions that focus on the needs of the buyer create transparency by revealing and resolving the emotional tensions in the buyer’s mind. Questions enable seller transparency by creating opportunities to place value propositions naturally into the conversation as solutions to both the emotional and practical needs of the buyer.
This is the delicate choreography of sales. People cannot say yes to your sales offer unless they can also say no. Telling a buyer why your offer is best (even if it is true) will trigger a defensive response because this is the seller’s story only. It can be perceived as one-sided and manipulative. Changing the choreography of the sales process to reveal the buyer’s story through good questions creates transparency in the process.
Once the buyer’s story is fully revealed all the emotional reasons to say no have been laid on the table and only then can a decision to say yes (or no) be made.