Paul shares one powerful idea to sell more effectively to the narrow-minded buyer.
Buyers will simplify their decisions to focus the conversation on price. Buyers will take a narrow view of their needs and choose the bare minimum.
When buyers view their needs as generic and simple, they will satisfice. “Satisficing means choosing an option that is merely good enough.”
“The bare minimum solution might have bare minimum pricing, but it also has bare minimum value.”
“Buyers with a narrow view of their needs focus on the utility of your product, not the impact it has on their company.”
Walk the customer through their buying process, help them take an expanded view of their needs.
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How do I sell to the buyer who wants the bare minimum?
(Transcribed from podcast)
On today’s episode, we’re going to dive a little deeper into customer decision making. In fact, what we’re going to look at are customers that take a narrow view of their needs.
And this often happens when a buyer tries to simplify a decision, and you usually experience it because they want to focus on price. So, here’s what happened. In a recent virtual training, a salesperson said, “I have a customer who usually is one of my top customers. They’ll usually buy the best of the best at everything. But this customer called up and said, ‘I just need something to get me by. I don’t need the top of the line. I don’t need all the bells and whistles that I usually get. I just need something.’” That’s what we’re going to answer on today’s show.
Before we get into that though, a quick shout out to our sponsor, The Creative Impostor Studios. Andrea and her team do a great job. Like I’ve told you before, check it out. If you’re interested in starting a podcast, they’re there to help, so reach out. There’s going to be information on how you can connect with them on this episode’s webpage.
Also, make sure you pick up your latest copy of Value-Added Selling. We’re now on our fourth edition. It’s available on Amazon or wherever you get your books—Barnes and Noble, you name it, pick it up there. It’s your go-to guide for how to sell on value. Some of the content we’ll talk about today is available in the book.
So let’s get back to that question. How do you deal with a customer who just needs something to get by? Meaning they need the bare minimum. And when I think about the bare minimum, I’m always reminded of that movie, Office Space, when that manager at Chotchkies says, “If you’re comfortable doing the bare minimum.” That’s what our customers get comfortable doing. Hopefully you’ve seen that movie. If you haven’t, check it out. It’s funny. I digress.
Sometime customers just want to do the bare minimum when it comes to buying. When I think about that, I’m reminded of Herb Simon who said that some people will satisfice. Satisfice means that they will choose something that is merely good enough. That term, satisfice, is a combination of the words satisfy and suffice. He wrote about satisfice in The Economist, and all that means is that people choose an option that’s merely good enough.
Now, on the opposite end of that, you have customers who are maximizers. They are the ones that are going to make the best possible purchasing decision. Our goal here… To help our customers make better decisions, you simply make them aware of their needs. Let’s get back to that question for a moment. If you have a customer who is saying, “I just need something to get me by,” that customer is unaware of their total needs. They have a very narrow view of what they’re looking for. For example, if the customer just needs a piece of equipment to move dirt, they’re thinking, “Okay. I just need something out here that will move some dirt.” That’s a commoditized view of what you’re selling. If they say, “I just need software that can process this purchase order,” or, “I just need an insurance policy to give me the bare minimum,” you’ve got to remember, when you’re getting the bare minimum price, you’re also getting the bare minimum value. And if you have bare minimum needs, then maybe that’s okay, but buyers need more.
In this type of scenario, buyers tend to under-buy relative to their actual needs, and it’s because they’re taking a narrow view of their needs. Here’s how we get them past. First of all, we help the buyer take an expanded view of their needs. Meaning, we walk them through their Critical Buying Path®.
The Critical Buying Path® was first introduced back in the early nineties in Tom Reilly’s book, Value-Added Sales Management. And you think about Value-Added Selling… Man, it was ahead of its time back in the early nineties talking about Critical Buying Path®. And today, everyone’s talking about customer journey and all that. The Critical Buying Path® is the end-to-end customer experience. It’s the series of benchmark steps that your customers go through when they make a buying decision. When a buyer is satisficing—when they’re looking for an option that is merely good enough—they’re focusing on just one step of the buying process: the procurement step. They’re looking at just buying something so that they can get something done. They’re looking at the basic utility of the solution versus the greater impact it could have on the organization. So again, we have to have the buyer take an expanded view of their needs.
Here’s how I would approach it with a customer. If I’m sitting down with a customer and they say, “I just need something to get me by,” I would slow down the conversation initially and say, “We’re here to help. We’re going to get you taken care of. Before we make a decision though, let me ask you a few questions just to make sure that we’re fully taken care of you; that we’re completely satisfying your immediate needs, but also your needs into the future.”
So, the first thing I would do is I would have the customer walk you through their decision-making process and say, “I know you need to get something out of here quick, but let’s think about this long-term for a moment. You’re getting ready to make an investment in a piece of equipment, a piece of software, an insurance policy, (whatever it might be).” Get them to think long-term and say, “Long range, what are your goals with this decision? What outcomes are you looking for?” I pause there. Let them talk. Listen to how they respond. They’re going to focus the conversation on outcomes. That’s critical.
Next thing I would do. Ask them how this decision will impact other areas of their business. Say, “Let’s look at this decision and, Mr. Customer, let’s broaden it for a moment here. How will this decision impact other departments within your organization? What’s going to be the impact on production, on finance, on marketing, (whatever it might be)?” And the reason we ask that question, it helps the buyer think about the greater impact of the decision that they’re making. It gives them an expanded view of their needs and how this decision will impact those other departments. All we’re trying to do here is get the buyer to think long-term, to take an expanded view of their needs, walking them through their needs throughout the Critical Buying Path®. That’s going to be critical.
All right, folks. That’s the show for today. More details on this Critical Buying Path® are available in the fourth edition of Value-Added Selling. Make sure you pick it up at Amazon.
Make it a big day.