What your buyers are really thinking (and how to use it to your advantage)

Before your customer buys from you, they want to know that the product or service they are getting will actually provide value to them.

Although the above is true (and you can read it in any sales textbook), customers rarely put it into those terms. They don’t sit down with all of your sales literature and try to figure out if your product or service “provides value”.

By the time someone gets to the prospect stage in your sales funnel, they are thinking about your offering in fairly vague terms within a much larger list of competitors’ offerings. The process of moving your prospect from the prospect stage to the customer stage is about getting them to see your offering as the only one for them.

So, how do you do that?

Every prospect has a mental checklist of elements that the product or service must contain or perform, and that mental checklist also includes qualities that the vendor must possess. These are largely unspoken — even unarticulated in the prospect’s mind — but they are very real. And in order for you to sell successfully, you must assure (and prove) to your prospect that you and your offering fulfill the items on their mental checklist.

Some of the things your prospect will have in their buying checklist are:

  • Will the product or service do what I want it to?
  • Will it suck?
  • Will the company try to rip me off?
  • Can I afford the product or service?
  • Will the company deliver?
  • Will I get the product or service on time?

Along with some of these questions, your prospect might have additional hot button issues like:

  • Is the product environmentally friendly?
  • Is the product fairly traded?
  • Is the product safe for my children?

If you want to be successful at selling your products and services, you need to figure out what your customer’s mental buying checklist is and then you need to answer each point in their checklist.

In general, the prospects in the market you serve should have fairly similar checklists. However, they won’t be exactly the same and they will prioritize their checklists differently. Here are some other ways you can find out what’s on your prospect’s checklist:

  • Ask them to talk about their own business. Listen to what they highlight as being important to them. If they provide rapid delivery, you can be sure that they will need a vendor with rapid delivery.
  • Listen for the questions they ask before and during your sales presentation.
  • Listen to the objections they make. Those are huge indicators of what is important to them. (And remember what you’ve learned and apply it to the next prospect).

Prospects will only buy once you have answered each point in their checklist. But don’t start the conversation by overwhelming them with checklist answers. You’ll need to build trust first. And, as you build trust, you can start to include checklist answers. Your literature should also address some of the most important checklist items. Verbal assurances are important, and sometimes that will be enough, but sometimes customers need proof, too. Provide proof in your sales literature and on your website.

The prospect stage of your sales funnel is the point at which your contacts consider whether or not your offering will meet their needs. They do that with an unspoken checklist that you need to discern and address in order to make the sale.

Published by Aaron Hoos

Aaron Hoos is a writer, strategist, and investor who builds and optimizes profitable sales funnels. He is the author of The Sales Funnel Bible and other books.

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