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    07/25/2023 |

    No One Is Buying Anything From You Until They Feel Safe

    Most people think they make purchase decisions rationally, but they don’t. According to Harvard Business School professor emeritus Gerald Zaltman, your prospects are making decisions emotionally.

    In Zaltman's book, "How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market", the professor reveals that consumers aren’t as savvy as they might like to believe.

    For example, while many consumers report comparing multiple brands and price points when evaluating a purchasing decision, Zaltman’s research indicates that this is not actually the case.

    Also, by studying consumers’ unconscious physical reactions, Zaltman found that what they really think or feel often contradicts what they say. This is probably where the old adage “buyers are liars” comes from. While prospects don’t mean to lie, they aren’t being honest with themselves either.

    Why aren’t consumers truthful about their purchasing thoughts and feelings? Well, a big reason is that they are driven by unconscious urges, the biggest of which is emotion.

    Emotion is what really drives purchasing behaviors, and also decision-making in general.

    Studies completed by neuroscientists have found that people whose brains are damaged in the area that generates emotions are incapable of making decisions.

    This idea is of great importance because it helps us realize that human beings are not as logical as we might imagine. And understanding this has significant implications for marketing, sales and branding.

    For example, by only marketing the attributes of your product, you’ll likely generate lackluster results. And the poor results you receive are because you’re completely missing the subconscious human element in the decision-making process.

    Humans are driven by feelings. If you want the consumer to remember your product, service or brand, they must be engaged and impassioned by the interaction with your company.

    Now that a Harvard scientist has documented what you might have always suspected deep down inside, what do you do about it?

    Make Sure Your Business Is Truly Remarkable

    You might have heard the phrase, “No one was ever fired for hiring IBM.” That means anyone could justify IBM as the safe choice, even if the project was a complete failure.

    When it comes to making sure your company gets selected, you have to do everything in your power to make your company the safe choice.

    One of the best ways to do this is to make sure your company is remarkable when compared to the competition. You have to offer something that no other competitor can say they offer.

    The more remarkable your business, the safer you become. Here’s how Square 2 puts that approach into practice. When people answer the question "why did you choose Square 2?” these are their answers:

    • Because they were the only company that could get all our work done in 30 days.
    • Because they assigned an entire team to our account a team of senior people, when the other agencies were going to give us a junior account manager.
    • Because they had their own methodology around our prospects’ buyer journeys.
    • Because during the sales process, they listened better than the other agencies and personalized our recommendations better.
    • Because I was able to meet the CEO, president and director of client services during the sales process, and they actually created our program instead of a sales rep recommending a package of services.
    • Because they talked about metrics and quantitatively measuring the performance of our program.
    • Because they have a system that they use for all their clients, one that helps them get better results.

    All those excellent answers would make anyone questioning a decision feel like the right decision was made. All these experiences contributed to making the people with the ultimate decision-making authority feel safe.

    You have to put your company in a similar position.

    Design Experiences To Make Prospects Feel Safe

    It’s not just answers to questions or conversations or messaging that make prospects feel safe. Most of the time it’s the actual experience.

    For example, if your salespeople are pushy, aggressive or trying to sell something, it’s going to leave a mark. It’s going to make most people uncomfortable.

    But if your salespeople are asking a ton of smart questions, if they appear to genuinely care about your prospects and if they are going out of their way to be helpful, educate and guide your prospects, almost anyone would feel very safe with that experience.

    This doesn’t happen by accident. This kind of experience has to be designed. It has to be optimized and measured. Check out this episode of our podcast, What’s Wrong With Revenue?, where we dig into this in more detail.

    You’re going to have to arm your sales team with educational content in a variety of formats and get them material that covers the questions prospects are asking about. This is called content delivered in context.

    Prospects ask about their website, and we send them website-related information to get them smarter about redoing their website.

    Prospects have questions about account-based marketing (ABM) programs, and we send them a video on ABM, so they feel smarter and more prepared to help their companies.

    Prospects have issues with HubSpot, so we send them tip guides on how to fix up HubSpot.

    It might sound basic, but you’d be surprised how many companies don’t do this right. This designed experience doesn’t stop with content.

    Look at ALL your emails. What is the tone? What is the objective of the email? How is the education and advisory part of the email copy you’re sending?

    We tell clients to never send what we call a naked email. That’s an email without some type of relevant and contextual educational content, even if it’s a link in the email.

    The more you help them, the more they trust you and the more they feel safe.

    Design and map out every single touch point during your sales process to ensure it’s specifically designed to make the prospect feel safe and you will see a shorter sales cycle and a higher close rate.

    Understand How To Help Prospects Get To Know, Like and Trust You

    At this point, you might be asking yourself: How do I know if the prospect feels safe? It’s a good question. To dig into this more, think about getting them to know you, like you and trust you.

    If they know you, like you and trust you, they are generally going to feel safe.

    You get them to know you primarily through your marketing. Your website is one of the best ways prospects get to know you and your company. They look at your team page, they read your history, they watch your videos (you have videos, right?), they read your blog and they review your services and customer logos.

    Today, your website is the primary way new prospects get to know you, and that is why your website is so important. It has to be information rich, tell a compelling, emotional story on the first page, be easy to get around, be visually interesting, load quickly and be easy to use.

    If that doesn’t sound like your website, it’s time for a new site.

    Prospects get to like you through your sales reps. One of the best ways to get prospects to like your reps is to arm them with a lot of smart, thoughtful questions. The more questions they ask, the more the prospect gets to talk about their favorite topic themselves.

    The more people talk about their situation, the more they’ll like your reps.

    It’s the same as meeting someone at a party. If you meet someone and all they do is talk about themselves, you’re not going to be interested. You’re going to be turned off, and you’re not going to like them.

    But if they ask you questions, appear interested and genuinely seem to care about your answers, you’re going to get a very warm and fuzzy feeling. You can’t help it; it’s how your brain works, and you’re going to like that person more.

    Now that they know and like you, just simply continue to try to help them and don’t try to sell them. The more you help, the more they’ll trust you. Soon, they’ll know, like and trust you and feel safe hiring your company.

    Why Is This So Important?

    No matter what you do B2B, B2C, government or nonprofit you’re doing business with people. People make purchase decisions, not companies. I learned a long time ago that people make those decisions emotionally first and then rationalize them later.

    No one buys anything until they think it’s a safe purchase decision. It’s how our brains work. It represents millions of years of conditioning, so it’s unavoidable and indisputable.

    Here’s a short story behind the science. The same part of your brain that controls the purchase decision also controls fight or flight. It’s designed to protect you from doing something that will get you killed. It’s the oldest part of the brain. It’s called the reptilian brain or the basal ganglia. If you want the long story, here’s a more in-depth article.

    Once you figure this out, it should change the way you think about marketing, sales and even customer service.

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    Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist headshot
    CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

    Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

    Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.

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