Current Issue:

Current Issue

On The Cover:
Cumulus Chairman Jeff Marcus

Click here to subscribe to Radio Ink.

Radio Ink Writers

Jeff Schmidt

Facilitating A Buying Decision


Retail therapy is a term that describes the practice of buying something to make yourself feel better. Lets face it, we love to buy. Why then does it sometimes seem so difficult to sell? People love to buy, but they hate to be sold.

Over the past couple of months, my wife Carolyn and I have learned that one of our Beagles is a diabetic, the other has a cataract, and our St. Bernard is overweight. Today Carolyn came home from the vet angry. We had scheduled a vaccine update appointment for one of the Beagles. Carolyn said if she listened to the doctor it would have been well over a $1,000 visit for a simple $54 shot. Now thats an upsell!

What made her angry is that she felt pressured by the vet that if she didnt have all sorts of new expensive tests that she was being a bad dog owner. I didnt like her attitude and tone towards me, Carolyn said. In other words the doctor made her feel guilty for saying no. The classic guilt close. I wouldnt have believed people were still using such tactics, but I experienced the same feeling leaving the same vet when I took the St. Bernard in for his shots two weeks ago. In fact, they went so far as to require that I sign a piece of paper indicating I was saying no. . . as if that was somehow going to cause me to rethink my decision.

When you love to buy something, its because youve identified a product or a service that you want or need. Hating to be sold means youre afraid of being manipulated, guilted, or talked into something you dont need or want. The lesson to sellers is to make sure you position your product/service as something your customer wants or needs without you having to sell it. In other words, if youve gone through the process correctly, your customer will be more eager to buy than you are to sell.

My friend Kevin Malone is a former Regional Vice President of Sales for a large company. Kevin used to tell some sellers, You havent been selling, youve been witnessing purchases. He was intending to indicate that the seller wasnt working the client correctly but was simply taking an order. I would argue however, if you do the work properly you will always witness purchases instead of making sales. I like to refer to it as facilitating a buying decision. If done properly, you should never have to sell.

Here are eight steps to facilitating a buying decision:

1. Start with why. Why are you doing your job besides the money? If its not to help improve the lives of your customers and help them achieve their goals, you will struggle hitting your goals. The attitude must be: How can I help improve their business? In short, you have to care about your customers.
2. Identify the true need or objective of your customers. This is done through questioning, analysis, and research. Find out what they are trying to accomplish.
3. Build trust and credibility as a resource that can help them meet their objectives or solve their problems. Active listening and engaging in discussions about your customers needs and desires goes a long way to building credibility.
4. Present ideas and solutions to their problems. Position those ideas to help them reach their objectives.
5. Provide value beyond your product or service. This means looking for other ways to serve your customers that dont cost them money. It could be as easy as sharing information.
6. Present your product or service in a way that clearly ties the value of doing business with you back to solving the customers problem or providing them with what they want.
7. Show your customers the emotional benefits of solving their problems or fulfilling their needs.
8. Dont pressure them to buy. If youve worked effectively through the process and provided them adequate information, you wont need closing techniques.

Carolyn felt the veterinarian was using her influence as a professional to try and guilt her into buying things she wasnt prepared to buy. I asked her what would have made the experience different. She said, Give me the facts, tell me the reasons to do it, the risks of not doing it, and let me research and decide. Instead she felt like if she didnt make an immediate and expensive decision, she was putting the life of the dog at risk. She wasnt.

Ive always believed that closing was the natural progression of a relationship that was built on trust, mutual respect, and an understanding of needs. When you identify the problems your customers have, and you create the right solution for them, what is there to close? If youve done your work properly, getting the order is simply the logical next step.

We all love to buy. Help your customers come to the conclusion that they want or need what your product or service does for them, and youll have the true pleasure of facilitating buying decisions.

Jeff Schmidt is EVP and Partner with Chris Lytle at Sparque, Inc. You can reach him at Twitter: @JeffreyASchmidt