Sales Call: Attaining from Boomers an Agreement to Buy
January 26, 2009
[Editor’s note: This is the eighth article in an eight-part series on selling to Baby Boomers.]
After graduating from high school, I had the opportunity to work on a crew fighting a huge forest fire on Bill Williams Mountain in northern Arizona. Besides the unlimited T-bone steaks and paper sleeping bags, the thing I remember most is a team of experts burning a huge area in front of the fire; when the fire hit the charred firebreak, it stopped dead in its tracks because all the fuel was gone. It was amazing.
Using the Boomer Selling method is like building a firebreak for objections. If you’ve done everything according to the process up to this point, you’ve comfortably and systematically reduced the fuel that causes the vast majority of buyers to pull out of the sales process.
Objections aren’t brought up because we don’t want to buy. Boomers can be ready, willing, and able to buy, but still throw objections at you like Ninjas hurling throwing stars. Why? Because we know the more time and energy a consultant has invested, the more they don’t want to lose the sale.
Many Boomers play on the fact that the consultant’s potential loss of a big sale is not only financial, but emotional. We’ve found that asking a question like “Is that the best you can do?” often leads to a price cut or concession. That’s just our nature. Please don’t take it personally.
Here’s a deep secret we hate to admit, and we’d rather you didn’t know: We’re predictable. In fact, we’re so predictable that over 90 percent of all Boomer objections can be neatly placed into four categories:
3. Hesitation; and
PRICEEvery time you review the benefits, the value gets bigger and the price gets smaller.
Just about every Boomer’s favorite objection has something to do with price. Why? Boomers have learned that in any kind of negotiated sale (and we know that just about everything can be negotiated) if we say something like, “Your price is too high” and then shut up, the consultant is likely to add a little more to our pile of benefits at no additional cost.
The reason many consultants needlessly give benefits away (cutting into their own bottom line) is that they lack a process to deal with real objections and Boomer manipulation.
Review the benefits. This is powerful language: “To make sure I didn’t include something you didn’t want, let’s review your priorities.” That rocks us back on our heels.
Take out your notes and review everything we told you we want. Briefly mention how your customized solution will take care of each item on your list. Wait for our acknowledgement; since it’s really our list and our ideas, we’ll say something like, “That’s right.” If you come across something we told you we could probably live without, ask if we want it taken out. This usually stops us like a pachyderm in a tar pit.
When you offer to take something away, it’s in our nature to want to keep it. The ball is now in our court, and the only pressure is what we’re putting on ourselves.
After we do our mental gymnastics and still don’t want some element in the package, remove it. Don’t overlook the fact that every unwanted feature is a potential objection.
AFFORDABILITYAffordability is different from price. Pricing is perceived as something that’s in your control, but when Boomers cite affordability concerns, we’re talking about our own financial comfort zone. Boomers are the most credit worthy people in our economy.
Remember back in the “Unlocking Customers’ Subconscious Desires,” (March 24, 2008) and “Elevate Boomers’ Emotions to Make Sales” (Oct. 6, 2008) articles how Boomers worry more about a potential loss of money than we savor a possible gain? When lack of money is a real problem, two great ways to make your solution more affordable are:
1. Reduce the benefits. Even though we may desire your customized solution, not every Boomer can afford it as designed. When you help us reduce the benefits to lower the price to a level we can afford, we give up some things we wanted but still get a more than acceptable solution. We both still win.
2. Help us find the money. Never hesitate to offer Boomers financing. Keep it simple. When it comes to repayment, give us the longest terms and the smallest payments possible. If we don’t want to finance or prefer a shorter term, we’ll let you know. The more interest rate options and repayment terms your financing program has, the better. Also deduct energy savings from the monthly payment to reduce our total out-of-pocket ownership cost.
HESITATION“We need to think about it.”
The fact is some Boomers want to make an immediate decision and get it behind us. Others love to procrastinate, and still others get cold feet but don’t want to admit it. In any case, you have no choice but to respect our desire to hesitate. The alternative is to disrespect us.
Most Boomer couples make joint decisions when buying big-ticket items. One of the most courteous and important things a consultant can do is give us a few minutes alone so we can go through our ritual: He turns to her and says, “What do you think?” She turns to him and says, “I don’t know, what do you think?” We’ve learned the hard way if we don’t both participate in this sacred ceremony and something goes wrong, one of us is going to hear about it for the next 20 years.
A word of caution: Some Boomers have a hard-and-fast rule that we think about our buying decision overnight or longer. The bigger the purchase, the more wary we’re going to be and the more leeway we need from you. But before leaving, agree on a time, place, and means of following up.
COMPARISON“We need another bid.”
The three most common reasons Boomers tell you they want another bid are:
1. You didn’t ask the right questions.
2. You failed to provide enough benefits to justify the price.
3. You forgot to review the benefits.
With your customized solution, you’re offering something completely unique in terms of your expertise, service, knowledge, benefits, and commitment to buyer satisfaction. So when buyers say they need to shop around, or they tell you they can get the same thing cheaper elsewhere, resist the temptation to say, “No, you can’t.” Say something like, “If you talk to others, there are some extremely important things to keep in mind … if you’d like, I’ll jot them down for you.”
Take out a pad and pen and review every benefit that the buyer helped design into their solution. Briefly explain again how your customized solution is the only way to give them exactly what they want. Last, remind them of the most important thing they can’t get anywhere else at any price: You! Let us know you’ll be there for us long into the future. For those who still want to shop around, no worries, you’ve armed us with a yardstick we’ll use to measure others and a list of requirements that only you can fulfill.
When you use Boomer Selling to attain agreement, you turn objections from wild fires to warming fires because you’re providing value Boomers cannot match anywhere else.
Publication date: 01/26/2009