When people are involved in the process of making a major purchase, theymaintain a subconscious "commitment clock." Most of us hate to wastetime, so the more time we invest in researching a particular vendor, the morecommitted we become to doing business with that company.

Correspondingly, prospective buyers will seldom invest much time in vendorsunless they are fairly confident they will buy from them. These factorstranslate into two rules you should follow when you sell to new prospects:

  • Lead them to make a significant investment of time in your company.
  • Lead them to make that investment starting with small amounts of time, then with slowly increasing time increments.

Let's look at an example of how this might work in the sale of a computer orindustrial machine. Below are some of the steps prospects might take and theinvestment they might make in your company at each step:

  • Read direct mail piece - Prospect investment: one minute
  • Read personalized letter - Prospect investment: three minutes
  • Initial telephone conversation - Prospect investment: five minutes
  • Read literature kit - Prospect investment: 10 minutes
  • Second telephone conversation - Prospect investment: 15 minutes
  • Initial face-to-face meeting - Prospect investment: one hour
  • Proposal presentation meeting - Prospect investment: two hours
  • In-depth demonstration - Prospect investment: four hours

Add time for reading your proposal and contract, meeting a couple more timesto discuss small points, having some internal discussions and so on, andprospects can easily invest several man-days in researching your company.

In any major purchase process, prudent buyers won't make a decision untilthey have examined all of the alternatives and fully understand how your companywill address their needs. Thus, there is usually little you can do to acceleratetheir buying process. What you can do, however, is lead them to make many hoursof commitment to you and your company, which can create a subconscious need torecoup that investment by buying from you.

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