Every time a customer comes to you, they’re taking a risk.

Making a purchase is taking a risk. How big the risk is determined by price, but more importantly the value of the purchase should outshine the cost, and our salesteam is the vehicle through which that happens. Take in point, a recent customer I’d talked down after a terrible experience with a retailer. She walked into a retailer asking for a “complete system, ready to use, out of the box. She bought a camera system, expecting to shoot near professional-grade images of her family over the weekend. The “complete system was quite expensive, and she was thrilled to have a system ready to roll when she unboxed it all. The customer paid a high price, but didn’t care much about the price; the focus was on what the purchase was going to allow her to do.

Unfortunately, the retailer failed to provide her with the key to the product she purchased; she needed a memory card for her several thousands of dollar camera purchase! Imagine buying a car, and not receiving the keys, and the dealership is closed. Not a good situation.

The retailer failed to meet her particular need, reducing the value of the purchase. Because of a missing 35.00 memory card, her perceived value wasn’t there, and she wanted to return the product. Had the retailer provided the card as part of her “total solution,” price never would have mattered. She bought from from the retailer because she valued their expertise, trustworthiness, and history. For the want of a $35.00 memory card (less than 2% of her overall purchase, the customer was lost.

Rarely do customers think about the overall price more than they think of the value of whatever they’re purchasing. This is easily set aside by suggesting “We’ve got quite a pile of gear here. Thankfully the cost you spent will be forgotten when you’re out making great images with it. Great photography is all about the image, and (list a few items here) the tripod, monitor, wireless system, lights…all of these things together…you’ll be glad you have them with you instead of wishing you did when that great shot is right in front of you.”

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”

Truly, consumers around the world put perceived value over price, as price is quickly forgotten while the value lives on. Ask yourself how often you think about the price you paid for a favorite thing in your life such as a motorcycle, piece of jewelry, a warm coat, or other favored product/item?

I’ll bet it’s not very often, if at all.

If price over value mattered, how many of us are driving used Yugo’s, watching television on an old 8″ black and white television, using flip phones, or searching Craigslist for an old DV camera?

Likely, none of us.

Few of us make our purchasing decisions based on price so why expect that our customers do?

So how do we go about reducing the perceived “risk?”

1. Build solid, deep relationships with the customer. Relationships mitigate risk. The greater the relationship, the lower the perceived risk. That’s why the salesman with the longer relationship almost always has the benefit of the doubt in a competitive situation. Its not the price – its the risk. Ask any B2B salesperson why they are successful; they’ll likely tell you it’s because the client knows them, trusts them, and knows they’ll take care of them. It’s entirely about building that relationship.

2. Use of third party recommendations, other customer purchases, case studies and testimonials.
All of these say to the customer that someone else, or lots of “someone elses,” have used the product. That means its less risk for your customer to purchase.

3. Try to get our customer as physically involved with the product as possible. For example, if you’re selling a piece of equipment, try to get the customer to trial the equipment, or at least visit somewhere its being used. The more your customer can see and feel the actual thing, the less risk  to them. Remember our “try before you buy” policy.

If you’re not selling extended service plans, for example, it may well be that you’re making decisions about the customer’s perception of risk.  Remove that preconception from your mind, recognize the customer’s risk is truly elevated WITHOUT the service plan.  Imagine that customer coming back in two weeks, angry because their tripod fell over and they now have a useless piece of gear, simply because we failed to reduce their risk by providing them a Service Plan/secondary warranty? Certainly, you don’t want to be “that person” that didn’t consider the best complete solution for the customer, and provide (or attempt to provide) every component to assure their success!

Reduce the risk of purchase by putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. “What would I want if I were out on this adventure, starting from scratch?” Providing the customer with everything they need, giving them security in their purchase, feeling great about their relationship with you; you’ll have life-time, loyal, and happy customers/clients.


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I've been a successful sales manager, musician, film/video professional, instructional designer, and skydiver. Picked up a few pieces of gold, brass, titanium, and tin along the way. This blog is where I spill my guts about how I'm feeling at any given moment, and maybe a blurb or two about what's happening in the sales, video, or skydiving worlds.

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