Sales psychology and the politics of customer decisions will play an important part in your marketing and sales efforts. As a customer formulates their decision, many of their requirements are unspoken. You will never persuade your customer to talk with you about their psychological pressures which are, in other words, unspoken customer requirements.
Chances are good that the customer is completely unaware of psychological pressures that weigh upon his decision. Most sales people are also unaware. However, psychological pressures will affect a customer's decision just as certainly as a printed specification sheet.
The psychology of customer decisions will play an important part in your sales and product marketing efforts. In addition to customer requirements, you will encounter important, but unspoken, customer feelings, bias, and politics.
Have you have ever wondered what they are? Below are several specific unspoken psychological sales factors that have come to my attention. If you are upset about not closing sales, or going crazy trying to build strong customer relationships, consider whether any of the following factors might apply to your particular situation.
Reputation: The customer's personal career reputation is more important than your product performance, price, quality, guarantees, service, and any number of excuses and free lunches.
The old saying is, "You are known by the friends you keep." What is your reputation? If you do not have a reputation, what does it seem like?
Trust: Your customer know that there are better vendors for the job. But you have the business because he knows that you will never get him in trouble with his superiors, or take credit for his work.
I have seen companies that will price a bit high to their bureaucratic customers. Then, within reason, they can take a few product returns, rather than push blame back to the ordering engineer.
Habit: Fast schedules and time constraints force customers to fill in the blanks. A customer makes decisions a certain way because it 'feels right' and caused him the least amount of pain in the past. The customer does not consciously know why he makes decisions, behaves or dresses the way he does.
Here is a good example ... ever meet someone who does not deal well with problems after 2:00 pm? Hint: Its easier to change your presentation time, than it is to change their nature.
Clubs: A customer organization will have a core of 'club members'. Membership in the club speaks of achievement, loyalty, and privilege. One member's decision over-rules any non-member's.
Nobodies: Beware of a customer who emulates their superior's authority or style. Others may resent their behavior, and perhaps their recommendations.
Perspective: Sales people think of scientists and say, "Can't I get a simple yes, or no?" Sales people are trained to think positively. Scientists think of sales people and say, "Lacks substance." Scientists are trained to think of all of the angles. Keep a healthy respect for other's perspectives.
Image: Is your customer management material? He will want to highlight his dedication and sense of urgency. For example, he may call a weekend or 5:00am meeting, regardless if the time for such a meeting is logical or required.
Once, on a Friday, a customer asked me to attend a problem solving meeting that he scheduled for 5:00am on Monday. He could have easily scheduled the same meeting for Tuesday at 3:00 pm. I didn't question his time, not even jokingly. I enthusiastically thanked him for the invitation, then purchased a Sunday plane ticket and an extra alarm clock.
Politics: Some in an organization make decisions based only on personal gain. They rule against your idea when the organization may have something to gain by success; but, they personally have nothing to gain from taking the risk.
In their minds, a possible benefit to the organization is only worthwhile when it may result in their personal gain.
Branding: Your first job at a new prospect is to make your name known. Does your prospect remember you? Really? Face it, after a few weeks, some busy executives might forget they talked with you -- or met with you -- entirely.
Find ways to keep in touch with your customers.
Subordinates: You will need help from subordinates. So, don't forget to give them the time and respect that they really deserve. Consider the receptionist who won't let you speak to the manager. How about the quiet laboratory technician who has poor social skills, and can accomplish significant things with your product?
Your customer's high-powered top managers may organize and motivate well, communicate and dress well, but might not fully understand your product. So guess who's opinions they rely on in their final analysis (hint: not yours)?