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MarCom Matters

June 2014
Issue: #56

Fear Factor

My 11-year old desktop PC finally gave up the ghost.

I would have bought a new one before now, but my frugal Dutch heritage conspired with an “if it ain’t broke” attitude to make sure I stuck it out to the end. Well, the end came. And I went. Shopping, that is.

After spending way too much time bopping between vendor websites, big-box stores and local computer shops, I finally made a purchase. But looking back on the buying process, a few things occurred to me.

For one, despite years working in high-tech development organizations (or because of it), the wide range of system choices eluded me. I found nothing to say why it’s advantageous to offer dozens of system configurations with only slight variations in processor speed and memory sizes.

After all, the more choices there are, the harder it is to choose. Especially with little or no information to go on.

The other thing I noticed was that of all the people I spoke with, no one bothered to ask, “What do you use a computer for?” Instead they launched into selling what they had. In the end it was up to me to figure out the right solution.

And even though I knew what was in store, no one but no one broached my number one fear: getting my files and quirky applications up and running on the new system.

Now, much has been written about buyer fear. But most of it addresses what happens after the purchase: fear of cost overruns, not getting stuff to work, breaking the business processes, being blamed for a bad decision, yadda, yadda.

In reality, though, there is only one buyer fear: Fear of the unknown.

But it’s a fear that can permeate the buyer’s journey right from the start. (I suspect some of your prospects were already in fear mode when you met them.) And it continues throughout all buying stages, from evaluating solution strategies to vendor selection, implementation and the aftermath.

For a lot of buyers, the pressure mounts until poof – they disappear without warning or decide not to buy anything.

So what can you do to ease the fears and build trust at the same time?

Talk with current customers to understand the challenges they faced during the buying process and how responsive you were. Here are some questions you can ask to help guide that conversation, along with some tips for improving buyer communication…

You can’t conquer every buyer fear – too many of them are outside your control. But with a little customer research and some clearer communication you can transform fear of the unknown into understandable knowns.

And that’s nothing to be afraid of.