Buyers may not always select the product they like best – they often buy the one they fear least!

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What makes the better choice?

Think about it…the last time you purchased a big ticket item what did you do? If you are like me you check product reviews before making a purchase. Why? Well for me, a lot of products look very similar, at least in the way they are positioned and marketed. So in the shopping process I’m not really looking the buy the superior product, I’m looking to buy a problem free product – the “better” product.

Since technology has enabled all products with a mind numbing array of features and functionality, I know that on average, all products are probably pretty much equal in equivalent price categories. I also know that bugs exist, be it a sticky gas pedal on a car, or some bios glitch in my new laptop that causes it to lock up every time it attempts to charge the battery after I switch from LAN to wireless network (actually happened to me). So, I really want a product that has the fewest bugs, which will result in the fewest headaches to me, and will over its life remain glitch free the longest.

Therefore I don’t give a lot of weight to what a company says on its website, what is printed in it’s literature, or what a sales person tells me. Rather, I read product reviews and talk to owners of similar products. But I’m not looking for information that causes me to give a higher opinion of one product over another – I’m looking for things that will cause me to eliminate products until I am left with one or two from which to make my buying purchase. Then I might rationalize my purchase based on a product’s value based on it price vs. feature/functionality.

I propose that a good many corporate technology buyers use the same methodology. That is when they compare my or your product against a competitor’s, they aren’t really looking to choose the product they like best… they are looking to buy the product they fear least!

Therefore when I’m selling, I try to be extremely alert to the following:

  • Any areas of concern or doubt expressed by my buyer.
  • Who in the decision process has veto authority (this is often different than those with recommendation authority).
  • Areas where my prospect was burned in the past by a product.
  • Situations where our sales team is attempting to overcome an objection by talking (rather than showing).
  • Ways in which I can build rapport and trust with my prospect – this often involves listening and parroting which is different than paraphrasing.

Obviously doing all the above does not take the place of showing how my product or service meets or exceeds the buyer’s requirements. But I find that when used with demonstrating how my offering best supports the strategic (as opposed to tactical) objectives of the organization, I can often keep my product from being commoditized in a competitive selling environment, and present my prospect with the “better” choice.

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  1. By Christopher Payne-Taylor

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