Savvy salespeople adjust their approach when selling to first-time vs. seasoned buyers in their category – especially when selling complex products or business services. Approach them like two sides of the same coin and you could end up with an unhappy customer and a hit to your brand’s reputation.
To identify a prospect’s foundation of understanding, ask early in your discovery process if the prospect has ever worked with a firm like yours and how they would define success in a partnership with your firm. The former question will advise of the essentials you’ll want to cover, such as: the steps in the buying process, how to effectively compare your firm to competitors, or costs that should be taken into account. Build long-term loyalty by arming your prospect with the information he needs to make an informed decision that’s in his best interest.
The latter of the two questions – around defining success – will help you determine if the prospect’s expectations for the partnership are realistic. If they aren’t, this is an opportunity for a candid level-setting conversation that benefits both parties when conducted sooner vs. later in the buying process.
Next, outline what’s essential for success. If you’re selling a business service that requires your prospect to make substantial changes, be transparent with what’s required of them. Share stories of success from clients who have embraced change and a failure with a client who didn’t. They should appreciate your honesty, and their reaction will indicate whether they’ll be a good fit for your company. Real sales pros don’t want every sale, but those from customers where the fit is good, causing them to buy again and refer you to others.
It’s common for new buyers to be skeptical of new relationships until trust is established. Build trust by asking questions, listening more than talking, and making it clear you genuinely care about what your prospect is saying. Don’t push too hard. Give them a reason to trust you by sharing evidence of successful client partnerships. Share a specific story of a company with which you have worked, what challenges they faced that brought them to you, the strategy you took in helping them resolve those challenges, and the specific tangible results that followed.
Understandably so, many new buyers aren’t able to foresee the inevitable bumps that may come along the way. Alert your customers to anticipated curveballs to continue to build trust and ensure their enthusiasm for the partnership doesn’t wane.
As you walk a first-time buyer through the buying process, be patient, build trust, outline expectations, warn of anticipated obstacles, and remember this investment of your time will pay off in their long-term loyalty.
Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and CEO/Founder of RedRover, a sales training and marketing firm based in Memphis, www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).