Catch Buyers When They Can't Say "No!"
By Paul Johnson
Your selling will be much more productive if you only work with prospects who face a Compelling Event.
What's a Compelling Event? We witness a huge one at the end of every year. It's called Christmas. This Compelling Event requires that all the shopping, wrapping, greeting cards, decorations, lighting, and baking be done by December 25th. Once the event is over, the pressure to buy is off. On December 26th, Christmas decorations are routinely half off in the stores. The opportunity to sell is lost.
Got a Date?
We are a due-date driven society. We tend to arrange our activities to get them done by the date they're due, which often means putting them off until the last minute and then scrambling for a solution. A due date does not necessarily constitute a Compelling Event, unless it is externally driven so it can't arbitrarily be changed. Christmas is on December 25th, period. Other Compelling Events might be a wedding date, the start of school, and April 15th - Income Tax Day here in the States. Arrangements need to be planned and purchases made to ensure these events takes place as desired and -- perhaps more importantly -- consequences are avoided.
Go to your local shopping mall the week before Christmas, and you can feel it in the air; the pressure is on. People know they have to buy something, and fast. You'll see kiosks in the mall before Christmas that don't exist any other time of year:
- Happy Feet Slippers.
- Sports team rugs.
- Animated pictures of waterfalls and sunsets.
- Wacky toys that walk, whir, and whine.
Many shoppers wouldn't buy these at any other time, but when they're desperate to fill a need -- the need to put a gift under a Christmas tree because someone is expecting it -- these nomadic merchants can empty their shelves.
Deliver Before the Deadline
If these sellers can do well fulfilling a need associated with a solitary event, perhaps you can find a way to do the same in your business all year long. Think of a Compelling Event as a deadline to make a purchase, with consequences if no purchase is made. When you find a prospect with a Compelling Event, you know they're going to buy something; the only question is, from whom?
When you talk with prospective customers, structure some of your initial questions to establish the existence of a Compelling Event.
- Is there something causing them to shop NOW?
- Do they need your product or service to execute a larger plan that has a deadline attached?
- Is there a date on their calendar when they will experience consequences if they do not to buy an offering like yours?
Christmas shoppers would all love to find the perfect gift to light up the faces of each of their friends and relatives. When that isn't possible, they'll put something -- anything -- in a wrapped box just to avoid giving those same friends and relatives the impression that they didn't try at all. That's why some of you got Happy Feet Slippers and Ouija Boards last Christmas; the giver did not want to endure the consequences associated with giving you nothing at all.
Date Not, Waste Not
Beware; when your prospect has no Compelling Event, they may choose to not make a purchase all. This may actually be worse than losing a sale to a competitor, because these people may continue to string you along and waste your time. Minimize your time spent with these prospects, and concentrate on those buyers facing a Compelling Event.
When you spot a prospect with that pained look of exhaustion so common in the malls on December 24th, you've got somebody ready to make a decision. They will buy something, and they won't expect it to be at half price. Plus, they'll be relieved to get the decision behind them so they can move on to their next deadline. You don't have to have the perfect solution, or the best price. Just get in front of the person facing an ominous Compelling Event. Catch these buyers when they can't say "No," and the sale can easily be yours.
© 2006 Paul Johnson. All rights reserved.
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