In this episode, Paul shares four ideas to help you persuade buyers in tough times.
It’s not that the technique is drastically different; it’s that the context you ask buyers to make decisions is different. Buyers define value differently in tough times.
You are not persuading the buyer to purchase your product; you are persuading them to take action.
“A lot can happen between the time the buyer wants to buy and when they actually buy.”
“Don’t focus on pushing your solution; position your solution.” Your goal is to be the front runner.
“Mitigate risk by demonstrating how your solution is safe and seamless.”
“Persuasion is easier in tough times than it is in good times.” Bob Dylan will explain why, “If you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.”
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How do I persuade buyers in tough times?
(Transcribed from podcast)
On today’s episode, we’re going to talk about persuasion in tough times, and how persuasion is different as opposed to persuasion in good economic times.
Before we get into that question though, a quick shout-out to Andrea over at The Creative Impostor Studios. When it comes to podcasting, whether it’s getting set up, trying to figure out a show platform, trying to figure out a framework, launching it, ongoing support, Andrea is the go-to person. So, make sure you reach out to her. Again, The Creative Impostor Studios. There’s going to be a link to her website on this episode’s webpage. All the info is right there for you. In fact, she has offered to provide you with a complimentary consultation just by being a fan of this show. So, take advantage of that and launch that podcast.
Also pick up your latest edition of Value-Added Selling. We have three chapters dedicated to persuasion, and there are some great tips there. Whether it’s good times, whether it’s bad times or tough times, persuasion is going to be important. So, pick up your copy at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or wherever you get your books.
Okay. So let’s get right into it. How is persuasion different in tough times? Well, persuasion is different in tough times because of the context in which you’re trying to persuade someone. In tough times, whether it means a recession, whether it’s the pandemic that we’re still experiencing right now, if it’s a rolling recession (meaning a recession in one particular industry like oil and gas facing tough times right now), remember that the context in which you’re asking buyers to make decisions is different. It’s going to influence how they decide—how they make decisions. That’s one of the main things we need to remember.
For example, during tough times, companies will look at ways to cut costs. During tough times, companies are going to look for ways to do more with less. And so, how they define value—what’s important to them—is going to be different. I’m going to give you a few things to think about as you attempt to persuade your decision makers in tough times.
Number one: when you are persuading your buyer in tough times, you’re not so much persuading them to buy your product as much as you are persuading them to take action. In previous podcasts, we’ve talked about how people respond to tough times. They are going to pause. They’re going to wait and see. They want to wait it out. And that’s what happens with most salespeople and buyers. So, decision makers right now during tough times, they’re developing a wait-and-see type of approach. Their mindset might be “I’m going to wait until next year to make this decision,” or, “I’m going to wait until after the election.” Or, “I’m going to wait until things start to look a little bit better before making this decision.” And so, your decision maker, they might be sold on your product or service they know they want to move forward with. It’s not a matter of if they are. It’s just a matter of when.
Well, you’ve got to remember, a lot can happen between when they want to buy it and when they actually buy it. What we need to do is, we need to sell the buyer on taking action. And you can do that by drawing a parallel. For example, let’s say you’re meeting with a decision maker. You know that they’re sold on your idea and they’re just waiting, and they say, “Hey, everything looks good. We just want to wait until next year to get started.”
We want to go back to that buyer and say, “I understand that, right now, things are tough. There’s a lot of uncertainty out there. But, when we think about taking action next year, let’s look at some ways that we can take full advantage of the opportunities we have right now. For example, Mr. Customer, we have time right now on our side to make this decision. You know, we have time to implement this solution. We have a window of opportunity right now to move forward. That way you’re better positioned—better positioned to come out of this even stronger.”
“For example, Mr. Customer, look at other areas of your business where you’re continuing to press on, you’re continuing to move forward and you’re doing all that so that you can better position your company. We’re asking you to do the same thing.” You’re selling the buyer on the idea of taking action versus just pausing. So that’s one thing that’s different about persuasion in tough times.
The next tip we’ll focus on is how we can sell our solution when the buyer’s not ready to move forward—they’re not completely sold on your idea—so, they’re pretty early on in the decision making process. Instead of pushing your solution on the buyer, I want you to position your solution. Think positioning, not pushing. Now, here’s the challenge. Most salespeople, during a tough time, they adopt a scarcity mindset. They’re not hitting their numbers; they’re struggling. And so, they become obsessed with trying to push their deal, trying to go out there and sell. They’re focusing more on themselves. They become that aggressive type of salesperson that is more about volume than quality. This type of salesperson is going to struggle, because the harder they push, the more the customers are going to push back. So, rather than trying to push your solution on the buyer, position your solution on the buyer.
It’s all about positioning. You are trying to position your solution as the value-added solution, as the front runner, as the solution that they should decide to use. It’s not about trying to get them to commit today to buy that solution. Instead, you’re almost getting them to commit to thinking about your solution. You’re getting them to commit to answering your questions. You’re getting them to commit to experiencing part of your solution via a demo or something like that. You’re just trying to position your solution as the front runner.
You’re not trying to close that sale today. And the reason we go on—shoot for positioning—is that once the buyer is ready to move forward (because, let’s face it. It might take them a little longer to say yes, or to decide in tough times), but once they do decide to move forward, you are now positioned as the front runner.
Another thing to remember as we are selling in tough times, your goal is always going to be to mitigate risk in sales. You’re trying to reduce the risk of them saying yes to your solution. And we do that by making the transition easy over towards our solution. We emphasize the safety and the performance. All the things that make the buyer feel good and mitigate risks. We want to make sure we’re highlighting that when we are persuading our buyers.
When you’re looking at your solution, you want to really highlight the positive aspects of your solution that mitigate risk. For example, use phrases like, “Mr. Buyer. This is going to be a smooth and seamless transition,” or, “You know what, Ms. Buyer. The nice thing about our solution, it’s really a safe solution. I mean, this is the type of solution that’s going to perform. You’re not going to regret this decision.” Each of those statements is focusing on mitigating risk.
What’s interesting here, this last tip is, maybe, a little shocking, but I’m here to tell you that persuading people in tough times is easier than persuading people in bad times. Let me say that again. Persuasion in tough times is actually easier than persuading people in good economic times.
Here’s why I say that. In tough times, people are more open to change. Think about what happens. Think about what companies are doing right now. Think about this work from home, how people are companies are pivoting, changing direction. People are changing along with that new direction. During tough times, people are more open to change. I was thinking about this the other day, and I’m reminded of a famous quote. And it’s from a Bob Dylan song, “Like a Rolling Stone” when he says, “When you ain’t got nothin’, you got nothin’ to lose.” When you ain’t got nothin’, you got nothin’ to lose. And so I think that’s very indicative of what is happening during tough times.
When customers are making buying decisions, and they’re considering moving forward or not moving forward, there’s always going to be that perceived element of risk. But, if you’re meeting with the decision maker during tough times, and there’s all this change going on anyway, they might say, “You know what? Business isn’t that great right now, anyway. We’ve got some extra money laying around. Why don’t we take this chance now while we have less to lose and see what happens?”
Now, I know that might seem a little crazy, because we just talked about mitigating risk and all that stuff, but think about it. During tough times, people can make decisions because, hey, what else do they have to lose? So keep that in mind as you’re out there and you’re continuing to persuade and work with your key decision makers.
Make it a big day.