Have you ever crafted the perfect offer, put a perfectly reasonable price tag on it, sent it out to all the right people, and still come up empty-handed in the sales department?
I know I have.
One technique you’ll hear over and over again for combatting this problem is to address your customers’ objections. Are they worried about the time commitment? Show them how to fit it in. Are they concerned that your product is right for the kind of person they are? Explain why it’ll work for them, too. Are they concerned about price? Demonstrate what kind of return on investment they could get.
But the biggest sales objection I’ve run into over the years—and from conversations with our Quiet Power Strategy™ strategists-in-training last week, I’m in good company—has been an objection that’s exceedingly difficult to combat.
But not trusting you. The biggest objection to buying is trusting themselves.
As providers, makers, and marketers, we spend an exorbitant amount of time helping our prospects trust us. We share personal stories, create valuable free content, and demonstrate through testimonials that we can be trusted.
But many times your “ask” doesn’t require any more trust in you and requires your customer to trust their own ability to get the kind of results you know you can deliver.
Getting value out of a product or service requires personal responsibility. Unless you’re a snake oil salesperson, you’re not saying that your product is the magic formula. You’re not the kind of marketer that promises that “one weird trick” is going to reduce the number on the scale by 20lbs or that this secret formula will result in triple the sales.
Even if you design clothing or make jewelry or create paintings, your customers need to feel that they can put your work to good use in order to buy it. People generally don’t buy things they don’t have the confidence to wear or put things in their homes they don’t have the attitude to match.
Let’s look at an example: Amy is a career coach. She knows she can help people manage career transition, discover a new path, or land a big promotion. She’s done it many times.
On her website, she talks about the clients she’s worked with, the successes they’ve had, and spells out specific outcomes new clients can expect when working with her. She doesn’t make promises—she knows better than that—but she does clearly articulate what she can coach you to if you’re willing to put in the work.
Amy’s practice sustains her own career but it’s not thriving the way she would like it to be. She has a hard time closing new clients. They start with long drawn out emails, they evolve to long initial consultations. They come back and ask more questions. Maybe then she can close the deal.
Yet, her existing clients rave about her. They keep coming back to her even after their initial packages complete. They ask her advice (and pay her) on the little bumps in their careers.
So why don’t more new prospects sign on the dotted line? And why can’t she, for the life of her, get people to sign up for the awesome career change program she put together?
As a potential client, when you’ve had some career missteps, maybe a bad boss or a difficult-to-work-for company, you’re hopeful but cautious. That caution leads to the long sales conversation Amy is having to have to land each new client. It also means that even those who feel like she’s the right person for the job won’t pull the trigger. It’s them, not her.
And if they’re not willing to trust themselves enough to get results from working with her 1:1, they’re not going to trust themselves enough to get results working with her in a program.
Again, it’s them, not her. (It might be them, not you.)
This Sales Objection is Also a Question of Risk
We are exceedingly bad at understanding risk. And a majority of your prospective customers think they themselves are a sizable risk to their own futures when it comes to spending money on goals that can’t be guaranteed. Every time you make an attractive offer, your customers are weighing the risk that they won’t be able to put it to use.
We, of course, think they’re considering whether it will be good enough or not, whether we’re smart enough or not, or whether we’re experienced enough or not. And that may be the case, but it’s far likelier that they’re asking themselves whether they are good enough, smart enough, or experienced enough to get the results they really want out of what you’re offering.
Breanne Dyck, who started this conversation on our Quiet Power Strategy strategist training call last week, explains that to help people feel more comfortable with perceived risks, you need to help them gather more information. More information comes from experimentation (action), not from more data (inputs).
Most of your marketing strategy to this point is about data. Blog post after blog post you’re explaining concepts, telling stories, and sharing experiences. But it’s all just data until someone takes action on it. The result of their experiment becomes true information that allows them to better understand and predict future outcomes. It allows them to better assess their own personal risk and increases their level of personal trust.
That means that in order to combat this stickiest of sales objections, you need to build action and experimentation into your business model—not just data.
Knowing is not enough. Knowing too much can encourage us to procrastinate. There’s a certain point when continuing to know at the expense of doing allows the mess to grow further.
— Abby Covert, How to Make Sense of Any Mess: Information Architecture for Everybody
The best way to ask your prospects to act is to ask for a commitment.
Trust (and True Information) Comes from Commitments
Think about the way you develop a romantic relationship. If you meet your special someone online (as I did), you start with committing to email them—it’s an initial experiment. This is about as low of a commitment as you can go. Then, hopefully, you commit to a first date. It’s probably just a coffee or drink date. Then, maybe you do a dinner date. And then a day hike.
Yes, this is a process of learning to trust the other person. To suss out whether they’re the one for you or not. But it’s also a process of learning to trust yourself. Do I like myself when I’m around them? Do I trust myself enough in this relationship to know I won’t make stupid decisions or follow them blindly?
Each commitment helps you learn to trust yourself as much as it does the other person.
As you’re building your business the same process needs to apply.
People generally don’t jump from discovery to purchase—especially not high-end products or services. You need to establish a series of commitments first.
Here are some commitments you might ask for:
- Like your page on Facebook
- Join a webinar
- Exchange an email address for a welcome gift
- Share a post with their friends
- Regularly open emails and read content
- Attend a workshop
- Buy a book
- Read a detailed case study
- Visit your booth at a show
- Purchase an entry-level product
- Engage in an initial consultation
- Book a short-term, project-based package
If you want to seriously combat this huge sales objection and dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes you to close a prospect, don’t pick one or two of these. Pick 3, 4, 5, or more of these smaller commitments. Create systems around them. Build them into your marketing calendar.
Relentlessly ask for small and escalating commitments so that when you’re ready to make a much larger offer, your prospect trusts herself enough to say yes.
Now you might be asking, “Isn’t this why I’m blogging every week?”
Sort of. The thing is, blogging isn’t enough. Content strategy is huge, don’t get me wrong. But marketers who are only blogging (even blogging and sending it out through email) aren’t establishing that trust spiral that allows their readers to get closer and closer to feeling really good about making a purchase.
In my own business, I’ve built action and experimentation into all levels of my marketing:
- I write ebooks that have built-in workbooks. The action is both the purchase and the results.
- I host webinars that promise results during the call. The action is decision-making and discovery.
- I teach workshops that build action steps into strategic concepts. The experiment is committing to watching and doing the homework.
- I offer Goal Discovery sessions as part of my on-boarding process. The experiment is vulnerability and commitment.
Together, these pieces work together so that I don’t have to worry about the “trusting myself” sales objection. If you’ve made it that far in my business model and still don’t trust yourself, you’re probably not a good fit for my programs.
Remember our career coach Amy? I would ask Amy to think of 3 common scenarios that send people looking for career help. They probably don’t know they need a coach yet (and maybe they don’t), but they know they need to consult Google, a friend, or the network to get an answer. Those 3 common scenarios are:
- I’m bored at work. I want a new challenge. I’m ready for a promotion.
- I’m tired of this career. I want a new one. I’m ready to figure out a new direction.
- I’m not making enough money. I want a raise. I’m ready to ask for one.
Then, I’d ask Amy to create a commitment trigger for each of those scenarios. Maybe she has a free ebook on asking for a raise, a free audio & workbook that helps you pinpoint your interest so you can figure out a new direction, and a checklist for preparing for a promotion. Each of those she puts behind an email wall. The “ask” is for an email address.
Now, let’s follow the free ebook on asking for a raise. The ebook shares exactly how to put together your pitch. The prospect finds that extremely helpful–but now she has a new problem. She needs to combat the fear of asking for a raise. Amy knows this, so she’s got a free webinar that she invites people who downloaded the raise ebook to. It’s all about getting over the 3 biggest fears you face when you ask for a raise.
Of course, asking for a raise is personal. So every month, she leaves 5 spots open on her calendar for a free initial consultation. Once a month, she asks this same group who is ready to work with her privately and invites them to this no-hassle consultation. She books all 5 appointments effortlessly. On that 30 minute call, she equips the prospect with at least one tactic they can use to suss out the possibility of getting a raise.
Finally, she follows up and asks if they’d like to book her Get That Raise coaching package. She offers to guide them through the next 6 weeks so that they’ve got a helping hand for each part of the process. She can’t guarantee a raise, but she can guarantee they’ll feel really good about the procedure.
Each part of Amy’s process has helped to build the prospects’ trust in herself. She’s taken action and already gotten results. Now it’s just an easy assessment of risk (what risk?!) to determine whether the information she has makes her feel good about working with Amy. Does she trust herself enough to really make use of this? Of course! She already has.
Now it’s your turn.
How will you ask your audience to act, experiment, and commit in order to build their trust in themselves? There’s likely something you could do today. So do it!