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The PIPELINE

A national monthly newsletter for agency principals dedicated to agency management topic

HOW AND WHY BUYERS MAKE DECISIONS
Brandie J. Hinen of Powerhouse Learning

Young professionals who are building a career in sales, customer service or marketing may not believe this, but no one actually buys what you have to offer. Believe it. In my business, I know it to be absolutely true. No one buys our consulting. No one buys our coaching. No one buys our guidance on leadership development. What do people buy? It boils down to just two basic things.

The first thing people buy is a solution to a problem. People buy a service only because they believe it will solve their problems and provide specific certain results. They don't really care how you do it. Your service is the tool you use to solve problems and deliver results. You wouldn't buy a pair of pliers just because you want pliers? You buy pliers because the tool can help you solve a problem that you need to get a secure grip on. You are buying an anticipated result. So focus on understanding people's problems and the results they will get, and your chances of success will be dramatically increased.

The second thing people buy is you. Once people identify a problem they want solved, they research who will solve it for them. By focusing your prospect conversation on understanding their problems, they will feel that you have their best interests at heart; they will start to trust you and open up to you and they will naturally decide you are the person to solve their problems. When you do this, you automatically overcome sales resistance and people will assume you know how to deliver results.

Let's delve deeper into buyer decision-making. An hour ago, I finished a remote sales meeting for one of my favorite clients. Our program allows us to work with people off site through webinars, teleconference, and one on one coaching calls, so the producers there know me well.

I was talking about the dynamics of what happens on your appointments with your buyers and what motivates those buyers to buy from ME.

I went through a series of slides on the way a person’s mind works. I said, “Forget thinking of this other person as a prospect, suspect, object, I don’t care what training you’ve had. Get away from some of the canned sales rhetoric and see this person, as well, a person.” I continued, “Your ‘buyers’ are just regular people who buy, or make decisions every day, just like you.”

In fact, I bet you’ve made several hundred buying decisions just in the past week. Don’t think so? Well, how about this... It’s Friday morning, you’re already tired and beat. It’s been a long week already; you get in your car to leave for the office, and what? Of course! Your wife has driven your car and left the gas on “E” AGAIN! Urrggh. So, do you take her car? No, just stay where you are, you’ll get gas on the way home tonight after work. Flying to make it in time for the 9:00 meeting, there’s an accident up ahead. Sheesh, here we go...off at the next intersection you take the side streets, weaving in and out of traffic and slide into home at the closest parking space to the front door. You walk in, okay, breathe a sigh of relief. It’s 8:45 am, time to get a cup o’ Joe, sit down, shake the mouse, and check any voice mails. Ahhh, it’s Susan, your newest client, so you guess you’ll get a quick call in before the Sales Beating ...

How many decisions do you think you’ve made already? Well, in the real world, several dozen and it’s not even 9:00 a.m.! Ohh, and when you do drive home, you are quickly reminded of your empty fuel tank when “ding” the little gas pump shows up on your dashboard display. Where will you buy gas? Shell and BP [oops, not a good example, let’s try again] Shell and Exxon [hmmm] okay, Shell and Chevron are your choices. Shell is at $2.72 and on the right side of the road, Chevron is $2.69.

All of us buy things or buy decisions, all day long. This is also what it’s like for your buyers.

Those people you are calling on, they are looking for something they think or feel could be better than what they have now. If you can’t connect with them and their interests, you’re likely not going to get very far.

We like to bad mouth the Gecko, but “15 minutes could save you 15 percent or more on your car insurance” and a cute little mascot that even 4 year olds can recognize has won over millions of people. Why? Because for a small amount of effort, a person can get a big potential return.

How are you approaching the thought of talking to people about the why’s of working with you? WHY is an emotional proposition, and people buy based on the emotions they feel. Whether it ‘just feels right’ or ‘I don’t know, Joe, something about him just doesn’t sit well with me’.

What if you were to just sit down with people and say something like, “Brian, you know, the way I see insurance is no different than the way I see everything else, whether it’s buying a new set of tires for my truck, a new pair of shoes, or where I’m taking my client to lunch this afternoon. Really, it’s as simple as the thing I buy, the person I’m going to buy it from for the price I’m gonna pay.”

With those tires, I’m thinking of the balance between what I’m paying for the tread life, warranty, chain of stores who’ll give me the free flat repair, all of that. Oh, and are they shooting straight, friendly, and interested in my business. [Interesting how even in tough times that people still choose to be indifferent, isn’t it?]

If I’m speaking with insurance buyers, here’s a little of how I teach producers to talk:

“So, for starters, since I know the numbers are very important to all of us right now, I’m going to leave that one for last.” “We’ll get there, but just not yet.” “First, I’d like to just listen to you and what’s important to you. What kind of expectations do you have from your insurance people for the amount of money you pay? How long have you been with those guys? And what kind of result for your money do you want from the company people?”

You see, just like you driving home from work looking for the best gas station, your buyer is going to weigh options based on how they make decisions everywhere else in their lives, not on how you make decisions. In fact, your buyer may tell you it’s all about the price, but in truth, none of us really buy anything from anyone we don’t like.

There is a lot more here to discuss, so keep in touch with Powerhouse Learning.

Revenue work: use the technique I showed you above. Draw the three circles on a sheet of paper for the client. The thing they bought. The person they bought it from; for the price they paid. Remember over 65% of the population, yes that’s most of you and your buyers, are visual learners. They want to see something. Map it out this way, and talk about the person – them, and the incumbent agent/broker relationship first. You’ll be glad you did.

And email me with questions, thoughts, or a request to talk about this at your next sales meeting: brandie@PowerhouseLearning.com .