Don’t sell features & benefits… sell certainty!

Do you think this is true… In uncertain times, people crave certainty?

A couple of weeks ago I listened to an interview with Simon Chaplin and James Ashford (Which was excellent) where they discussed a number of topics, but the one that stuck in my head was the notion of ‘selling certainty’. Essentially people make buying decisions when they trust you can deliver the promise of the outcome suggested in your marketing.

James went on to say, sometimes the lack of trust is not in you, but in their own ability to make this assessment due to previous bad decisions they have made.

An interesting premise indeed, and one that has had me thinking since about what ‘Certainty’ looks like. My first conclusion is that it’s not one thing, but a number of contributing factors, unique to every single buying decision. Based both upon the context of the prospect and the overall presentation of the seller. In this article I want to expand on these two factors.

So let’s start with the context of the prospect, i.e. the circumstances that form their requirement AND decision making process, in terms by which it can be fully understood. 

In my humble opinion, not taking time to discover the context of the prospects requirement, and the way they decide which solution is worthy of their hard earned cash, is the BIGGEST cardinal sin of selling.

For every buying decision there is a context to it. I might need a new car and my context could be a mid-life crisis (Sports car), or a new child in the family (More space required) or an immediate purchase due to prang etc. As a sales person, by asking great questions and actively listening I can understand exactly what is needed, and therefore concentrate on those needs when presenting solutions, thus increasing the likelihood of the sale. But this is only half the battle…

As human beings, we have entirely different needs and communication styles. Different attitudes towards risk, different prior experiences and different values. Should a salesperson rub against our values, it will de-crease certainty. If we have had a bad experience in the past, we will require more certainty now. If we require detail yet the sales patter is fluffy and vague, we will lose confidence.

Taking time to understand your customer and what certainty looks like for them is essential. According to the National Sales Executive Association, 80% of sales are made on the 5th to 12thcontact with a prospect (Yet only 10% of sales people make more than 3 contacts). Could it be that certainty increases when we are consistent?

Now let’s consider the presentation of the seller… and by presentation I mean everything from marketing, to communication style, to appearance etc. 

Firstly, let’s not kid ourselves that we are the only viable solution to the problem. For example I might feel insecure in my home, but the potential solutions to this problem could be guard dog, or security windows, an alarm system, self-defence lessons, coaching for anxiety etc. or all of the above. Most of us have competitors, even if they don’t do exactly what we do.

So how we show up matters. If your presentation hasn’t truly taken the time to understand the needs of your prospect, you are probably increasing uncertainty. If your communication isn’t a values match, this will also impact confidence. If you don’t demonstrate your expertise, or provide testimony, build suitable rapport or show consistency, then you could be tipping the balance the wrong way on the scales.

So let’s assume we all take the time to understand our prospects context. Here is a list of things I believe that are in our control when it comes to providing certainty.

  • Showing we understand their needs
  • Demonstrating expertise
  • Social proof (Testimonials)
  • Confident communication
  • Perceived value for money
  • A clear promise of an outcome
  • Consistency in approach
  • Satisfaction guarantees
  • A test drive of some description
  • De-mystification of the situation (Simplifying)

Each one of these is an article in it’s own right, but I will be discussing in more depth on Thursday at 1pm should you want to join for some strategies for creating certainty in your nurture phase.

Thanks for reading and let me know in the comments what you would add to create more confidence in the minds of your prospects.