Are you getting enough exercise?
We all know that regular physical exercise is associated with physical health and longevity.
But how many of us follow this recommendation? Some of us do, but let’s be honest, many of us do not.
Of all the problems we must address today, somehow exercise does not rise to the top of our list of priorities. We don’t feel a sense of urgency about it.
Robert Jolles explains that it’s no different with your buyers:
Buyers don’t buy because of little problems, they buy because of big problems.
Most of your buyers are in the the stage of their buying cycle where they acknowledge they have a problem (the kind of problem you know how to fix), but they aren’t ready to do anything about it.
They simply don’t feel the urgency to make a decision and to take action.
Customers tend to stay in this stage of the buying cycle for a long time.
Why don’t they feel a sense of urgency?
Because their current experience of the problem is small. I know I should get more exercise, but nothing has happened to me yet. I haven’t experienced any serious consequences from the problem.
My doctor can tell me for years that I should improve my diet and exercise more, but I don’t perceive it to be a big problem. But if I have a heart attack, suddenly I see it as a big problem and I have no trouble making a decision to fix it.
What happens if buyers do nothing?
Then customers take the risk that their problem will become a big problem, one they cannot control.
Maybe it will stay a small problem. In that case nothing happens.
But if the problem suddenly gets big, it can also become difficult to fix.
The CEO of General Motors was on the hot seat in front of several angry senators this week. GM had a known problem with ignition switches that it failed to fix. People died. Still GM did nothing. Now they are paying a big price for their mistakes because they allowed the problem to balloon completely out of their control.
What can you do to help customers feel a sense of urgency?
You can help your customers avoid letting a small problem skyrocket out of control.
As Jolles puts it: “The intent of selling is to protect the customer from “what if,” not “what is.”
You just have to guide them to see the wider consequences of a problem they perceive to be small.
How do you guide them? By probing the customer about their situation.
1. Identifying probes. These help you and the customer identify where there might be a problem. The purpose of this stage is to help the customer to identify or to agree that there is a problem. Customers do not like to do this. No one does. We are burdened with enough problems. We don’t want to add more to the load.
Your customer will find it easier if you identify problems by asking open questions:
“What sort of challenges do you currently experience with your finances?”
“What kinds of difficulties are created when a salesperson can’t find information about a customer?”
2. Developing probes.
The key at this stage is to stay with the problem and get a little more curious about it. You want to advance the problem.
“How are you currently managing when …”
“What do your investors say?”
“How are your employees reacting to this?”
“Who else is affected?”
3. Impact probes. Now you’ve explored the extent of the problem. The customer has told you how many other people are affected.
The impact probe helps the customer see the true potential of the problem you have been exploring. At this stage you are helping the customer to avoid a catastrophe rather than helping the customer to clean up after a catastrophe.
What happens when they do feel a sense of urgency?
Customers that see the true potential of the problem they’ve been living with feel a sense of urgency.
This urgency causes them to feel ready to make the biggest decision in the buying cycle. That decision is the one to act, to move from acknowledging a problem to committing to doing something about it.
You may not feel any more urgency to get more exercise than you did at the beginning of the article. What you do have is a powerful tool to help your buyers feel a sense of urgency about the problems you know how to solve. A sense of urgency that will motivate them to decide to act and to move forward in their decision cycle.
Photo Credit: Minnesota Master’s Swimming