HOW TO SELL ANYTHING

Know When Your Customer Will Say "Yes!"

Turns out, your customers are more predictable than you think. With these two checklists, you'll never have to guess again.
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For sales pros, no sound is sweeter than a customer saying "YES!" However, many sales pros avoid asking for the business, because they’re afraid of hearing "No."  That fear is misguided, though, because it's quite easy to predict whether a customer will say "YES!" How? Take these two, short checklists: 

Sales Checklist #1: Financial Conditions (True/False)

  1. The customer has articulated a relevant need.  This can be a goal that needs to be achieved or a problem that needs to be solved.  It's relevant if (and only if) your offering addresses that need.
  2. The customer has assessed the financial impact. The customer has estimated or has confirmed your estimate of what it will cost, in terms of lost revenue, regulatory expense, lost profit, etc., if the need remains unsatisfied.
  3. The customer has a budget to address that need. The customer, after assessing that financial impact, has committed (and is willing to spend) funds that otherwise would be spent on higher priority items.

SCORING: If any of the three items above are "false", then the customer is not going to buy.  If the answer to ALL of the three items above is "true", the customer MIGHT buy, depending on the second checklist.

Sales Checklist #2: Psychological Conditions (True/False)

  1. You have already helped this customer.  For example, you have provided a unique industry perspective during your discussions or have brought your customer a referral for a potential customer for the customer’s business.
  2. The customer believes your offering is unique or rare.  In general, this means that you have established that your firm is the only viable source for what the customer actually needs to solve the problem.
  3. The customer considers you an authority.  You have revealed something about your specific background or experience that leads the customer to consider you uniquely knowledgeable about the issues involved.
  4. Buying will bolster this customer's self-image.  The customer has made specific statements that define himself or herself as the type of person who needs and buys what you’re offering.
  5. The customer knows peers who've bought from you.  Customers are deeply swayed by "social pressure" which you generally create by providing examples and references that match the profile of the current customer.
  6. The customer likes you personally.  During your conversations, you've uncovered similarities between yourself and the customer, and have communicated in words and deeds that you truly respect that customer.

SCORING: For this checklist, the scoring is cumulative.  If most of items on the list are "true" you’re likely to get a "YES!" If only a couple of the items are "true" then, it's iffy.  If all of them are "false," the chances that you’ll get a "YES!" are slim indeed.

The first checklist is based upon a conversation with Mark Sellers, author of the excellent book The Funnel Principle.   The second checklist is based upon a conversation with Dr. Robert B. Cialdini, arguably the world’s foremost expert on the psychology of influence.

IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Nov 7, 2011

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed more than a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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