A sale is classified as complex when it involves a high degree of risk and uncertainty, as well as when it involves a larger number of people in the process than just the final consumer. As more people are involved in a sales decision, the more complex the sale becomes.
Complex sales also do not resolve in one single interaction. When there are multiple decision points, the real goal is to keep the conversation moving forward toward the next decision. Recognize there are competing goals at play too. Your goal is to make the sale; their goal is to make the right decision based on their wants, needs and budget. Your prospect also might be considering competitive offerings, so keep the conversations on going with you and what you offer.
Psychographics Drive Buying Behavior
In target marketing, there are eight different major variables you can use to define your target audience. When you are looking at a complex sale, the most critical component to understand is the psychological make-up of your prospect. This is referred to as the psychographics of your customer. What drives them and what drives their buying behavior?
To effectively handle a complex sales situation, a deeper consumer understanding that is matched to decision triggers and promotional strategies is required. These sales situations involve an intricate blend of matching your unique offerings with the competing concerns of multiple decision influencers and stakeholders your prospect brings to the table.
Prospects who involve many other people in their decisions are always looking through a different filter. One of the ways they do this is by creating multiple interactions or involving multiple other people. Sometimes these buyers believe they need buy-in or support for their decision from other stakeholders. These stakeholders can be both internal or external to the enterprise. Other times they use other people as a way to more carefully evaluate or vet their decision. Sometimes they will seek approval from others to confirm their decision is the best option. These people can be your best sales allies, or they can be a roadblock to prevent you from achieving the sale and adding them to your long-term customer list.
Decision Triggers Move Sales Decisions
After you gain a foundational understanding of the characteristics of your consumer, during a complex sales process, you need to find out what will trigger your consumer to make the final decision to purchase your product or service. It might be a budget issue, a family member or co-worker. Sometimes it will be the involvement or approval of an outside advisor or board of directors. It might be circumstances in the future causing their concern or hesitation. Whatever decision triggers might influence your prospect, be sure you address them in your sales presentation.
You need to understand what drives your consumer. Also make sure you engage with anyone who is a decision influencer in your consumer’s life. The most effective way to gain this insight is to ask deep probing questions that go beyond the basics on the surface. Think carefully about the questions you ask your prospects. You need to ask questions that provide you with a thorough understanding of the psychological drivers of your prospect. You also need to understand the psychological drivers and decision barriers of the others who influence them who may be involved in the sales process, even if only behind the scenes.
Use the psychographic profile of your typical customer to adjust your sales pitch to leverage the consumer’s emotional responses. Then strategically influence the multiple decision points that you have with your prospect to better leverage the knowledge you gained through the use of probing questions. This process makes your sales effort more professional and effective.
Prospect’s Make Many Decisions in a Complex Sale
If you are engaged in a complex sale, keep in mind that your prospects are making many decisions during the buying process. The first decision is to talk to you via telephone or email. The next decision would be to come in and meet with you. The third decision might be to bring other people into the discussion with you. The next decision might be that they have to bring the rest of their work team or their spouse. They might need to talk with their internal financial advisors or to their professional advisors such as a banker, accountant or attorney. An additional decision might be to narrow down their competitive alternatives.
In sales, your role is to guide them through each of these decision points to give them comfort in moving their next decision toward buying from you. Your goal is to remain the present and focused advisor guiding throughout the sales process. Make sure you provide them with the right information they need as they move through their sales cycle. Recognize you may not be the right fit for them. You need to stay in play long enough to help your customer understand clearly what you offer, so they can make an effective decision that is right for their needs and circumstances.
Combine decision making triggers with your understanding of your consumer’s psychographics to create a marketing message that will give you the strongest platform for successfully completing the sale. The more consumer insight you have, the better your message. The better your message, the greater chance you have of completing the sale.
Once you gain the consumer insight to understand what influence internal psychological factors have on your customer, you will have the foundation to excel at marketing and selling to them. The more you know about what makes your prospect tick, what’s important to them and what they value, the better able you’ll be to incorporate this insight into making your sales pitch more effective.
A strong grasp on the psychological drivers of your target market is the best way to develop your sales strategy. This consumer insight will reduce the amount of time it takes you to go from a cold lead to a closed deal.
About the Author:
Jill J. Johnson, MBA, President and Founder of Johnson Consulting Services, is a management consultant, accomplished speaker, award-winning author, and Business Hall of Fame inductee. She helps clients make critical business decisions and develop plans for turnarounds or growth. Her consulting work has impacted over $4 billion worth of decisions. She has a proven track record of dealing with complex business issues and getting results. For more information, visit www.jcs-usa.com.
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