Mastering the Psychology of Buyers

You'll increase your closings by 30 percent or more if you understand why and how buyers buy. Years ago a sales executive complained to me, "What an idiot! I can't believe my prospect went with our competition. Our program is better, our fees are less, and our system is proven to be stronger." In quizzing him about the lost candidate, the troubled sales rep was clueless about the buyer's motivations, concerns, and goals in owning the business. My question is, "Was it the buyer, or the sales rep who was the idiot?"

In today's economy, sales pros gain the edge by into their prospect's world. They probe, read, adapt, and outsell their competition by fully understanding and responding to how their candidates think and behave... and by uncovering their personalities, motivations, characteristics, and hot buttons. Here are some insights on prospects' behavior that may help increase your recruiting success.

1) Buyers are seeking a relationship

Relationship-building is the heartbeat of recruitment. Franchising is people-driven, not product-driven! Buyers smell product-pushers 10 miles away, which is why many sales people fail at selling franchises. Buyers must feel extremely comfortable with you, trusting your ethics and your commitment to franchise owners.

Potential owners must believe you are concerned about their family, aspirations, and their future and wealth. By gaining their credibility, confidence, and trust, you are in the driver's seat. With this bond in place, you will outperform your competition. Without it, it doesn't matter what franchise program you offer. You are vulnerable. If the prospect hasn't personally connected with you, they can disappear at any moment.

What truly is most important to the buyer? Is it the sales person, the product, or the company? Research conducted by Prudential Insurance found that the sales person is the greatest influencing factor in purchasing The product is second. I believe this rings true in buying franchises. Deals go south when prospects sense you are commission-hungry, or that you may not be able to deliver what you claim. They buy from professionals who will work in their best interests, and who are passionate about their franchise success.

2) Buyers are highly impressionable and fragile

Every word you utter to a prospect is recorded in their memory. What you say and do will greatly influence their investigation. Minor errors have major impact, e.g., when your investment costs don't match your brochure estimates; when you take two days to return their phone call; when you misspell their name on your follow-up correspondence; when you ask the same question twice; or when you are 11 minutes late picking them up at the airport.

Sales pros obsess on the accuracy of details during the sales process for good reason. Seemingly small items are a big deal to cautious buyers investing their life's savings in a franchise opportunity.

3) Buyers are in a specific stage of buying

Did your prospect just start looking at opportunities, or have they qualified their search to your industry? Find out quickly. Uncovering this up front will improve your effectiveness with your candidates.

Prospects in the preliminary stage who don't know exactly what they want will welcome your and guidance. Your approach should be more consultative, providing basic franchise information this buyer should know as they evaluate your opportunity. Probing questions such as, "How long have you been looking for a business?" and "What other businesses have you been considering?" will provide direction about your prospect's current status and interests.

For buyers who have diligently researched franchise opportunities and are in the decision-making stage, your approach is certainly different. Don't bore them with the basics. Rather, direct your attention to what they have discovered in their franchise investigations. Focus on the ownership advantages your franchise offers, and continue to dig for a prospect's hot buttons to determine whether they fit your franchise profile. "What don't you like about some of the franchises you have considered?" and "What are the most important factors for you in the business you choose?"

Next time: More tips on the psychology of buyers.

This is an excerpt from my best-selling book, "Grow to Greatness: How to build a world-class franchise system faster." To order copies, click here.

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