Are you a safe supplier? Buying is a risky business. If you want to persuade customers to buy your solution, you must first convince them that the risk of doing so is low.

Sales people often fear rejection, but the customer also has a fear – the fear of making a mistake, of paying too much, of being criticised for making the wrong choice, or of being left stranded by your company because the support is inadequate.

In every sale you are involved with ask yourself -’What can I do to reduce the client’s perception of risk?’

Position your company as the low-risk provider of the required solution. Demonstrate that doing business with you is the safe option.

How to sell safety

What do you think lowers risk in the customer’s mind? It could be your company’s reputation, stability, client base, quality awards, or having lots of satisfied customers. And if you have high repeat business, then be sure to talk about it.

Karen Zupko, a highly respected business consultant working with medical practitioners, has a great line: ‘In God is all our trust -everyone else bring data.’ Her point is right on the money in today’s sales.

Provide hard evidence

For the customer to trust you, you must provide evidence – the harder the better – that confirms the quality of your product or service. This also means being careful of woolly claims such as ‘It’s cost effective’. You are unlikely to have been in a situation where a buyer heard that expression and said, ‘Really, you’re cost effective. That’s incredible. Just what we want, because the supplier we’re using now is cost hopeless!’

Instead, demonstrate what you mean by cost effective. For example, ‘On the basis of a 10 per cent reduction in processing time, this new system will pay for itself in eight months.’

Build a file of testimonials

But what lowers risk the most – what you say or what your customers say? Your customers’ opinions are hugely important in reducing the perception of risk, so use testimonials, case histories, client lists, references and reference sites wherever possible.

As a first stage, build a file of testimonials and attach relevant ones to every proposal. You’ll find that your sales go up as soon as you start using them. Include them in a section of your website so potential customers can see them when they are finding out about you.

If you currently don’t have any testimonials, set a goal to get 10 in the next four weeks. Contact your customers and ask them for an email explaining their experience of your products/service and support and describing the benefits they have received. Most customers are only too pleased to do this: it’s all part of building good business relations.

Be careful here

If your customer asks, ‘What do you want me to say?’, be careful you don’t fall into the trap of saying, ‘I’ll leave it to you.’ If the testimonial is a hassle to write, they won’t do it. Instead, offer some ideas to help them, preferably by asking questions such as: ‘What is the biggest benefit you have received?’

Rather than generic assurances that you give good service ahead of the competition, encourage your customers to describe a specific way you helped.

If you’re a start-up with a new product or service, get testimonials from scientists, experts, trial groups and anyone else you’ve worked with. Once you get in the habit of using testimonials, keep them up to date and relevant to your target audience. Risk reduction is a key feature of LDL sales programmes.

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