How To Speed Up Your Rural Sales Cycle
When times get tough your rural customers will tolerate less risk when it comes to purchases, especially big ones.
- They will do their homework more
- They will ask around more
- They will ask more qualifying questions than they usually do
- They will get more quotes and hunt out more online options as they know they have more choices
- They will ring around more because they know businesses are hungry to make sales, especially at month or quarter end.
They ain’t silly.
They will be considered, constrained and cautious in their purchase decisions, so this should come as no surprise.
It pays to prepare for it.
Here’s the simple truth:
To address risk you have to reduce risk.
So what can you do?
- Can you make an offer that reduces their risk (real or perceived)?
- How could you share that risk with them?
- Could you eliminate all their risk completely?
- How could you reassure them their decision is the right one to make?
There are all the obvious answers you already know:
- customer testimonials (making sure they state a clear benefit)
- customer case studies (remember to be specific, not generic so it talks to the specific problem that same person is trying to solve)
- guarantees (conditional or unconditional)
- no contracts (or opt-outs)
- flexible payment plans
- trial periods (no one likes to get married on the first date)
- payback calculators
- hiring/leasing (‘try before you buy’)
- fixed pricing
- no questions asked refunds
What you need most is truth and proof.
You need to proof that what your product or services promises it will do, it will deliver.
So many of us have been burnt by bad decisions which science has shown hurts us as much as physical pain due to the proven psychological principle of loss aversion.
Making a bad decision can put us in a bad light amongst our peers too.
None of us likes to look stupid because it attacks our status and significance and threatens our survival, job, income or career prospects. All serious stuff.
That’s why we’ll often evaluate and sweat our purchase decisions worrying how it might reflect on us.
Remember the tagline:
“No one got fired for hiring IBM.”
You can reduce any purchase risk simply by standing behind your product or service with an iron-glad guarantee. You can even make it your point of difference.
When we teach and train rural clients I ask them: “If you’re not willing to share or take on risk, why on earth would your customer?”.
If you don’t believe in your product, your rural customers won’t either.
It’s not reasonable or fair to expect a customer to take on all the risk, whilst you take on nothing.
By showing you back your own product or service 100% your rural customers are much more likely to buy from you vs. a company that doesn’t.
They need reassurance. They need proof. They need evidence.
When you do this their risk to purchase is reduced and you will make more sales.
But there is one other method that so few use that they still lose.
If you want to make more sales more quickly and speed up your sales cycle, you have to demonstrate you understand the particular pains and problems your customers face in their own world, not your one.
You have to be using the same words and language as your customer is using, talking in specifics not generalities. If you can’t do this, you’re showing them you don’t understand them and the result is you – and your message – gets ignored.
You can get these insights and ideas by observing, asking or watching your customers in their everyday lives (online groups or forums are a good place to go like Reditt, Quora, Answer The Public or Amazon book reviews).
Listening and learning are vital sales skills.
Study your customer like your business depends on it. Because it does.
When you are at pains to understand your customers’ pains, your marketing is much more likely to hit the mark.
Example: a feed wagon manufacturer promotes the even mixing quality of their machines. The real problem being solved here is metabolic uptake. The first order effect (mixing quality) has a second order effect (metabolic uptake) which creates a third order effect (less downer cows, better animal health and milk production which makes them more money – bingo).
Mixing Quality > Metabolic Uptake > Less Downer Cows > More Milk
Don’t stop at the surface where most people do. Dig deeper. Consider the real solution your product or service solves for your customer. Think about the job your products does as Clayton Christensen says in his brilliant book The Innovators Dilemma.
Be at pains to understand their pains.
Sales cycles will become longer as times get tougher. There is no doubt.
The sooner you can understand the specific problem your customer is trying to solve, the sooner you will speed up your sales cycle and make more sales.