It’s the ultimate goal of any sales pitch: getting your customers to say ‘yes.’ Yet, if you’re an IT salesperson you will have no doubt learned through experience that winning customers over is no mean feat.
The truth is that customers enjoy buying; they look forward to investing in, and utilising, the latest IT software and technology. The problem is that they just don’t like being sold to, which makes your job – as a salesperson – rather challenging.
So, what’s the secret to IT sales success? Is there a winning formula you can apply to all types of sales scenario? In his international bestselling book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, social scientist Dr Robert B. Cialdini explores the psychology behind why people say ‘yes’ and determines six universal principles that influence people to buy. Those principles, as outlined in articles on copyblogger and Inc., include:
Think about it: how many times have you said ‘yes’ to a salesperson you didn’t like? The first step of the sales process involves building a rapport with the customer. You must start a meaningful conversation with them – ask them questions (that aren’t sales-related), listen to their answers and respond with your own personal stories.
Don’t fake friendliness or be overenthusiastic as this is likely to put the customer off. The key is to be genuine – speak to customers how you like to be spoken to. Just remember that building a relationship with the customers comes first; the selling part comes later.
Customers like hearing from – and consequently buying from – authoritative figures. That’s why toothpaste brands often use dentists in their adverts, because they help boost credibility and instil trust in consumers.
If you’re selling IT equipment, you should have expert knowledge of all the products you’re selling. You should know individual specifications, pricing, general benefits and USPs; this will allow you to talk about the tech with confidence and answer customer queries immediately instead of making them wait for a response.
You must be transparent with prospects from the offset so they have no reason to doubt or mistrust you. This is really important when it comes to pricing – all costs must be communicated and if you offer it, IT finance is something which should be discussed with customers up front once determining the available budget.
Reciprocation is the human desire to repay a debt to someone. It has powerful implications in sales, as customers often feel obliged to return a favour when they have received something from a business for free.
If you offer a prospect a freebie, it should be product-related – a free software trail, a free consultation to discuss IT needs or a future purchase voucher, for instance.
- Commitment and consistency
We all have a deep-rooted desire to be consistent in our words, actions and attitudes. What this means is that, when we make a certain commitment, we feel inclined to remain consistent with that commitment in the future.
Applying this to the sales process, you should aim to get a little ‘yes’ from a customer and then work up to a big ‘yes.’ Start by making a small request, for instance, ask a prospect if they could fill out a questionnaire or if they’d like to receive a free newsletter. If they said ‘yes’ to your small request, they’re more likely to say ‘yes’ later on when you ask them if they’d like to buy your product.
- Social proof
Customers will feel more comfortable buying your products and/or using your services if they know other people are doing the same. So, if you give a prospect proof of other businesses using your products, they will feel more encouraged to use you.
When speaking with a prospect, mention other businesses similar to theirs that are customers of yours. Additionally, on your company’s website, make sure there is a customer testimonials page or section you can direct prospects to.
This principle suggests that things are most attractive to people when their availability is limited. So, if customers feel like they might miss out on a great deal, they feel encouraged to take it quickly while they still can.
So, if you are selling a customer computers for their business, you could offer them a bulk buy discount but add a deadline for the offer and make them aware of it. Yet, as the Inc. article states, often in B2B selling it is more beneficial to focus on the overall loss the customer may incur if they choose not to buy your product – i.e., you should make the ROI scarce.
Do you have any of your own tips for encouraging customers to say ‘yes’? If so, please comment on this article!
For information on how finance can support your IT sales, click here.