Every purchase puts a B2B buyer’s job at risk, perhaps more so now than ever before because of the mountain of information buyers are expected to know before entering a B2B deal. Buyers can – and will – learn about your products online. As a sales rep, your job has changed from getting the client to buy to making the client feel confident they have made the right decision. Every client worries about whether or not they made the right decision when implementing new solutions that will change their processes. An appeal to buyers’ caution can paint you in an empathetic light, and build your buyers’ trust in you.
How does the appeal to caution work?
A buyer’s caution stems from a reluctance to face fears. If you understand what your buyer fears, you can position your solution as an alleviation to those fears. The appeal to caution is a way to identify yourself as an ally to your client. It begins with acknowledgment of the fears that a prospect encounters in relation to making a purchase. These fears can range from something as small as the fear of dealing with someone new to the more devastating fear of losing his or her position for making a bad buying decision. Whatever their fears, your goal is to grow their fear of not buying your products or services even bigger than any existing fears.
A masterful example of the appeal to caution
The goal of an appeal to caution is to project a buyer’s fear onto something else, and convince them that the fear of not buying what you’re selling is much scarier than a buyer’s initial fears. In a famous scene from the 2000 movie, Boiler Room, salesman Chris Varick (played by Vin Diesel) demonstrates a skillful use of the appeal to caution. He convinces a very hesitant doctor to buy 2000 shares of stock for a new medicine in less than 3 minutes, and in the process the doctor goes from cautious to confident in his decision to buy. He convinces the buyer, Dr. Jacobs, that he should not be cautious about purchasing; rather, he should be cautious about “missing an opportunity.” He goes on to suggest that everyone else, including Dr. Jacobs’ colleagues (with whom he competes for business), are already seeing the monetary benefits of their purchases in the stock. Everyone else is “in the know,” and Dr. Jacobs isn’t in on their secret.
Using the appeal to caution as a sales tool.
While we don’t encourage you to start lying on the phone to your prospects, we can all still learn a few tricks from Varick’s sale. First of all, he transforms Dr. Jacobs fear of buying an unknown medicine into a fear of missing out on something huge. You can duplicate this effect with the right sales intelligence about your prospects’ industry. Learn how their competitors get ahead, and tell your prospect you can help them blow their competition out of the water. Also, don’t be shy about the benefits your product delivers. Features and functionalities are nice to have. Benefits are necessary. Strong customer success marketing, such as you’ll find from salesforce.com, can show your prospects that everyone else is “already in the know.” Your product is the secret weapon to success. The final lesson we gleaned from Varick’s performance is his ability to make big seem small. He injects confidence in his buyer by declaring that a number his buyer would never propose is just a small start. He starts big, and aims to go bigger. We can use this tactic in our own sales calls when we propose deal size. Rather than asking, “how many people on your team need this product?” ask “Why don’t we start with the whole team, which I see is 49 seats? Then we can open discussions later about onboarding team X.”
A lot has changed in the sales industry since 2000, when Chris Varick reigned over the illegal sales scheme in Boiler Room. Chris Varick sells 2000 shares of stock in 3 minutes. This doesn’t happen in the real world – especially not with complex B2B products and services. The principles of his sale, however, still apply. An appeal to caution can start with social selling. Check out the InsideView White Paper, Social Selling, How to Connect and Engage with the Modern Buyer, to learn how to incorporate a social strategy into your sales approach.