How to Sell a Service Your Customers Won’t Admit They Need

November 3, 2014

6:37 pm

Have you ever been embarrassed to make a purchase at the supermarket? For example, a laxative may be completely necessary, but no matter how bad your stomach hurts, it’s difficult to throw the bottle in the cart with your head held high. Instead, you hide it under the tortillas and pray no one notices.

Purchases that expose weakness or demonstrate fallibility are no big deal to some people, but many consumers feel uncomfortable highlighting their weaknesses, and that uneasiness can cause them to avoid the purchases they need most. This can create one of the most difficult sales challenges for a company.

That being said, you can’t expect your potential customers to purchase your service simply because they need it. Unfortunately, what’s best doesn’t always matter when people make purchase decisions. Instead, they dwell on what the purchase says about them. And when you’re the one selling something people don’t want to admit they need, you may face some unique sales challenges, including:

  • Stigma. Customers usually don’t want to accept a service when it lumps them into an undesirable category. For example, many people won’t admit they need physical rehabilitation after an injury because they don’t want to be seen as weak or disabled. Be prepared to have a negative association tied to your business and take steps to preserve a positive image.
  • Low or slow conversion rates. Resistant customers will drag their feet when it comes to implementing your service. Often, they won’t act until their situation is more uncomfortable than admitting they need the service.
  • Premature customer termination. As soon as your customers start seeing results, they’ll likely want to discontinue the product or service. How many people sprain their ankle and stop using crutches too early? Usually, this results in prolonged or incomplete healing. When people see results, the desire to stop feeling inadequate kicks in, and they make bad choices.

Help Your Customers Help Themselves

One key element to overcoming these sales challenges is understanding neuromarketing — or the psychology of the consumer behavior process. In many cases, simply being aware of how people think and taking simple steps to counter the issues you face can be enough to put an uncomfortable customer at ease. Here are five tips for convincing your customers to admit they need what you’re offering:

1. Show them that you understand. If you can touch on the emotions attached to your service, your customers will see that you understand where they’re coming from. Feeling understood is a form of validation that builds trust and rapport. Make sure you also highlight the emotions they’ll feel after they use your service.

2. Cite specific examples. You can reduce discomfort by using specific examples of how your product or service has helped others. This will help them see the same value in your service that you do.

3. Answer their questions before they ask. You probably have enough experience to know your most common questions, so answer them in the course of speaking with potential clients. This shows that you’re prepared, organized, efficient, professional, and ready to hit the ground running. Additionally, if a customer doesn’t want to admit he needs your service, this will give him information he needs but may not be willing to ask for.

4. Educate them. Back up your claims with relevant studies, or use high-quality YouTube videos to illustrate what your company does. If you have relevant experience or vast industry knowledge, inform your potential client. This knowledge will empower him to make an informed decision, and learning this information from you fosters trust and helps him view you as a partner.

5. Remove purchase barriers. When someone is hesitant to make a purchase, a barrier can be something as small as reaching for a pen — it’s why car salesmen angle documents toward your dominant hand. Ask yourself questions about the ease of purchase. How many different payment methods do you offer? Is your contact information easily accessible? You never know what someone will use as an excuse, so make the purchase process effortless.

Don’t become disheartened if you’re having trouble now. Early on, automobiles faced resistance because they were generally perceived as unreliable, costly, and an unnecessary hazard. One writer even proposed that pedestrians be legally allowed to shoot at automobiles with a shotgun if they weren’t driven safely. But today, automobiles allow us to travel quickly and comfortably over long distances, becoming a more connected, productive society despite initial resistance.

Whether your service can revolutionize an industry or simply make a positive impact on your individual customers, sometimes you have to be patient, make the process as easy as possible, and let your client come to the right decision.

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Matthew Arrington is the executive director and co-founder of Forte Strong, the world’s first failure-to-launch program for men who struggle to leave their parents’ home or find it difficult to become independent. Forte Strong uses a proprietary coaching model to help students find purpose and direction, guide parents and families in empowering their sons, and ultimately create a healthier family dynamic. Matthew currently resides in sunny St. George, Utah.

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