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Top Secrets to Selling Persuasion

Updated on March 20, 2011

On the first day of sales training, the instructor holds up a $20 bill and asks if anyone will buy it from him for $5. The room is silent. Then he asks, "how about $1?" after additional silence, one person finally raises her hand and says, "yes, i'll buy it from you." the instructor asks the rest of the room why they didn't jump at the chance to pocket a $19 profit. The answers come rolling in, stating they thought it was too good of a deal or that there must be some catch. He then asks the sales person who bought it why she did. Her reply? "You seemed trustworthy to me."

And here we have our most critical lesson in selling for today's wild and crazy post recession (but maybe pre depression) world: You must sell customers on the factors they are least likely to discuss openly. Over the past few years, research has been conducted with millions of consumers about why they buy and why they don't. The results come back the same, regardless of industry, geography or demographic. People buy because of hidden factors such as trust, risk, culture and image. Yet, they talk about tangible things like performance, quality, price, rules and schedules.

This might seem paradoxical. People always talk about wanting to live in a fair, equal, positive, progressive, nurturing and clean environment and want the businesses they frequent to echo those values. However, they are only the gating factors to being in a business. They are akin to making sure an automobile is built with quality and has the features you want. Ask anyone who has had a bad experience with a car or dealership the real difference is whether they will stand behind their cars in times of trouble. Buyers are always asking a series of questions in their mind. Is this dealership credible? Will it be around the several years that I own this car? Do I really trust what the sales person is telling me? Will its mechanics try to rip me off? What happens if ______ (fill-in the blank)?

In today's small business world, these hidden factors are nearly identical in their roots. Many business point out the obvious, rational benefits to a potential customer; i.e. price, facilities, hours, but then the customer ends up going somewhere else where they feel more comfortable. This is not because your business is not the best choice; in fact, your business might well logically be the best choice. Emotionally, the customers' most basic needs and concerns were met somewhere else. This applies equally to brick and mortar establishments as well as the most ethereal small e-tailer.

While each family unit's morals, values and interests are unique, their underlying issues are amazingly similar. What you must do, should you choose this mission, is to unhook yourself from what you sell and lock into what it is that a customer is actually buying. You can start by building a profile to assess a customer's expectations about your business. The following six questions should help.

Top Secrets to Selling Persuasion, Part 2

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