There are all different kinds of tricks and techniques salespeople can use to stack the odds of a sale in their favor. Some different tricks may seem pushy and off-putting
while other techniques may be more subtle without compromising your integrity as a salesperson. Doubt, when used appropriately, is a technique that is often overlooked in the sales universe. But what exactly is doubt and what makes this creeping sensation so disruptive? Doubt is what makes the risk factor the animal that it is. It is a fear-based emotion that reminds us that we are not totally in control and if we are not completely prepared and protected, we are exposed to some probable danger.
On the other hand, doubt keeps us tied to deeply held beliefs that control many of the decisions that we make. So what does this mean in terms of sales? It means that we often question ourselves when we make a purchasing decision. Did I get a fair price? Will I be satisfied with the performance? Am I certain that I like this color? If it breaks, can it be fixed? Is this something that I really need right now? Every purchasing decision has to be put through this process. So, as salespeople, we already believe that we are selling the best option for our customers, but what if they aren’t on the same page as us? Or worse, what do we do if our competitor has them in a tight grip that we struggle to break them from? You plant the seeds of doubt.
This is a disclosure: There are both good and unethical ways to apply the doubt technique. Planting ideas in your customers’ minds that are dishonest, based on conjecture, or are otherwise working against their best interests is not good salesmanship. That said, let’s talk about 5 proper ways to leverage doubt in a tough sale.
- Compare price to drive the value – These are the two biggest drivers in a purchasing decision and there is always room for doubt. If your customer is leaning toward your competitor’s option you can ask, “Are you certain you have the great price over the value?” This will be your opportunity to talk through your offer and highlight where the customer is better served.
- Examine their decision-making process – Sometimes you have to switch from being a salesperson to a purchasing advisor. It is not only okay, but it is also prudent to ask someone their process for making a purchasing decision. This allows you to discover what is most important to them and if they haven’t been true to their own process (which many of us are not), you can demonstrate how your offer best aligns with their process.
- Assess their comfort level – Everyone has doubt, so why not just come right out and ask for it? If they are strongly considering another option, you can ask, “How confident are you that you are making the right decision and why or why not?” This will instantly reveal the opportunity to fill a gap that their competitor did not and win the sale back.
- Challenge their assumptions – Everyone knows what they say about assumptions, so why not exploit it? Ask questions such as, “How do you know you are getting the best value? How can you be confident that you will be pleased with the quality? What happens if you find out that you are unhappy with your purchase?” Let them vocalize their response so they can hear their own doubts in their own words. Maybe there is still a chance for you after all.
- Give them a Plan B – Salespeople are know for keeping their door open for opportunities, but sometimes we could do a better job of articulating it. Give them a clear path to your doorway and lead them there. Setting this next step is crucial if you don’t get the sale this time, so be clear about your intentions. “I understand that you have chosen our competitor and I respect that. You may find that you are happy with that decision 6 months from now. However, I have found that many customers realize their expectations not being met in that period of time and it can be good for me to follow up to see if the needs have changed. I will reach out to you then and if everything is going great, well, then it will be just nice to talk to you. But, if things aren’t going as expected, perhaps our conversation can be a little more helpful.