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The Fifth Stepping Stone on the Path to a Purchase

on 13 Sep  Posted by Admin  Category: Internet Related  
by Karl Hourigan

The Fifth Step: Per­suade

Persuade
We con­ducted a lot of research into the B2B buy­ing process, and this research was pre­sented in The Buy­er­Sphere Project book. One of the ideas explored in the book is the need for IQ and EQ in the buy­ing process. IQ refers to infor­ma­tion; it’s the data, prod­uct specs, hard facts. EQ is the emo­tional side of the equa­tion. You’ve no doubt heard the cliché that peo­ple buy from peo­ple, and it’s true. At var­i­ous points in the busi­ness pur­chase process, we need emo­tional sup­port to know that we are mak­ing the right deci­sion for our­selves and our company.
There are some reli­able human traits we share when we make deci­sions. Under­stand­ing how they work can help ven­dors influ­ence a buyer’s choice.

In his book, “Influ­ence: The Psy­chol­ogy of Per­susa­sion”, Dr. Robert Cial­dini describes what he calls “weapons of auto­matic influ­ence”. He com­pares these influ­encers to jujitsu, the art of using the opponent’s own strength against them. These auto­matic influ­encers can be summed up in these prin­ci­ples:

Reci­procity
If some­one does you a favour, our descrip­tive norm is that we want to return the favour at some point. The garage that stays open and fixes your flat tire when you come in 5 min­utes before their clos­ing time is doing you a big favour and most peo­ple would feel a need to rec­i­p­ro­cate in some way, by rec­om­mend­ing the shop or bring­ing them busi­ness directly.

Com­mit­ment and Con­sis­tency
Once we start down a path, it’s hard to aban­don it, espe­cially if we have pub­licly com­mit­ted to it. A com­mit­ment ties our sense of self to a par­tic­u­lar course of action. In terms of Sales this means that once we get a show of com­mit­ment from a prospect, we imme­di­ately increase the like­li­hood of being the final choice.

Social Proof
Despite the fact that we all like to be thought of as free thinkers, we are wired to be fol­low­ers to some extent. If we see enough peo­ple doing (or buy­ing) the same thing, we are usu­ally more eas­ily per­suaded that it’s the right choice. And why not? It’s a quick tool for mak­ing deci­sions when we are unsure our­selves.

Lik­ing (and Empa­thy)
Guess what? We buy more from peo­ple we like. As Guy Kawasaki puts it, we want to be “enchanted”. We tend to like peo­ple who are sim­i­lar to us, peo­ple who give us praise and com­pli­ments, and peo­ple who coop­er­ate with us towards mutual goals.

Author­ity
Author­ity, in its var­i­ous guises, has been shown to be very per­sua­sive indeed. The most per­sua­sive author­ity is one that is per­ceived to be both trust­wor­thy and knowl­edge­able. To estab­lish your author­ity, take a look at your cre­den­tials: are you accred­ited by a rec­og­nized pro­fes­sional body or insti­tute? Do you pub­lish thought lead­er­ship col­lat­eral? Do you blog, speak at indus­try pan­els, or par­tic­i­pate in activ­i­ties to advance your industry’s under­stand­ing? Do you have expe­ri­ence, delighted cus­tomers, an appro­pri­ate appear­ance? It all adds up to give you author­ity.

Scarcity
Are you sell­ing for­bid­den fruit? We want what we’re afraid we can’t have. Fear of los­ing out on some­thing is a proven per­sua­sion tech­nique: “this is the last one in the shop, I have another cus­tomer com­ing in to look at it this evening.” That fear of los­ing out, a form of risk, is very real. Accord­ing to a study in the Jour­nal of Orga­ni­za­tional Behav­iour and Human Deci­sion Processes, poten­tial losses fig­ure far more heav­ily in man­agers’ decision-making than poten­tial gains.

An over­rid­ing theme in B2B pur­chases is “risk”, and the pur­chas­ing processes many busi­nesses set up has a lot to do with risk avoid­ance and mit­i­ga­tion. Once a com­pany makes the short­list in the buyer’s con­sid­er­a­tion, it’s time to high­light the dif­fer­ences of your company’s value propo­si­tion. When the buyer is ask­ing (directly or more likely, indi­rectly) why they should choose your com­pany, keep in mind that dif­fer­ent peo­ple in their orga­ni­za­tion are look­ing for dif­fer­ent kinds of infor­ma­tion; some of it is reas­sur­ance (think tes­ti­mo­ni­als, ref­er­ences, case stud­ies, guar­an­tees, awards, client list) and some of it is about the nuts and bolts of how your prod­uct or ser­vice will work for them and how it will inte­grate with their work flow (think videos, brochures, tech­ni­cal spec­i­fi­ca­tions, flow charts).


Biography / Resume : Karl joined Mediative’s service delivery team in 2008. A year later, he moved to the company’s research department where he conducted online surveys, eye-tracking studies, one-on-one interviews and usability testing. Most recently, he transitioned to the marketing department. Before Mediative, Karl worked in sales and marketing. In 1997, he caught the digital bug and became the original “webmaster” for Roland Canada Music. Around the same time, he began teaching the relatively new topic of Internet marketing to college and university students. Karl’s insatiable curiosity and drive to get to the core and substance of every situation has served him well in his various roles at Mediative.

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