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Ownership Questions and Sales Psychology

Check out our new HD sound on iTunes, Stitcher, and Soundcloud. Today I’d like to discuss an exciting topic – ownership questions and sales psychology. Sometimes a new sales person will contact me complaining that he/she can’t make any sales. When I ask for details, the sales person might say, “I offered this guy a […]

Check out our new HD sound on iTunes, Stitcher, and Soundcloud.

Today I’d like to discuss an exciting topic – ownership questions and sales psychology.  Sometimes a new sales person will contact me complaining that he/she can’t make any sales.  When I ask for details, the sales person might say, “I offered this guy a thousand dollars a year in savings, but he still didn’t sign up!  Obviously, no one is going to be interested if I can’t even sell this guy.”  The sales person seems to think sales is about logic, but that is not the case.



Consider this scenario to help you understand sales psychology and why people buy stuff:  Imagine you are walking down the street in New York City.  There are many people around you.  A total stranger walks up and says, “Hey, I actually want to give you a thousand dollars.  I’ll put it in your bank account right now.  All I need is your bank account number, routing number, and social security number.”  How are you going to respond?  Suppose the stranger offered ten thousand dollars?  Of course, we all know you would be an idiot to do that, right?  Often a higher dollar amount generates even greater suspicion.  The reason you wouldn’t agree to that is lack of trust.  You wouldn’t trust a stranger with your personal information.

Usually when I go out with struggling sales people, I am amused that they seem to be “giving away the farm.”  They feel that offering a prospect more savings would get the sale.  In reality, such tactics are probably hurting the sale.  I might say this to a prospect, “Here is the deal.  You realize you’re a small business, and so am I.  I have all these big competitors.  I have good news but maybe not what you hoped to hear.  I am able to match the price your current company is offering you.  The good news is that you get to do business with a local vendor.  I think that really means something to support the local small business community.  I’m sure you’ll agree with me, Mr. Jones?”  This is a great pitch because it doesn’t sound too good to be true.  This will make sense to Mr. Jones.

Another sales rep might make no money on a deal by offering to save the prospect a thousand dollars a year, which is all the margin.  However, the prospect will think this rep is trying to scam him/her.  The rep misses that sale; it’s the psychology that matters.

So, the question is how to encourage trust from prospects and to move their mind toward the sale?  I have learned much from Tom Hopkin’s book Mastering the Art of Selling and have read it many times.  Tom Hopkins still holds the record for most individual real estate properties sold in one year.  You should read his book!  Let’s discuss a strategy he calls ownership questions.  As Mr. Hopkins took a buyer through a prospective home, he would ask questions such as, “Now, Susan, do you like the brownish color in this house?  If you moved in, do you think you would change that color?”  Susan might respond, “It really would look nice with a different shade of blue.”  What is happening in Susan’s mind in this situation?  She is buying this house; she’s imagining how it would look.  Then Hopkins might follow with, “I like how they have that swing set in the back with the patio.  Would you change any of the landscaping around that?  Or do you like the way it’s set up?”  Susan’s husband might answer, “I think I’d put some stones around there.”  They are getting into the house already in their minds.  Rather than Mr. Hopkins convincing them to buy, they are wanting to buy.

You can customize ownership questions for anything you are selling.  For merchant services you could say, “Susan, if we move forward with this program, what are your thoughts on these different options I have available to you?  The Clover is more high-end that is going to manage your whole business.  Poynt is a nice smart terminal, smaller, which can sit on your countertop.  Or we have the free terminal option which is similar to the one you have now.  What are your thoughts if you DO decide to move forward?”  That’s a great ownership question.  As your prospects answer such questions, you begin watching for buyer signs.  When your prospects ask specific questions about an offer, that is a buyer sign.  This means they are at least interested enough to look into the decision.  Susan’s response might be, “I don’t know if we really need Clover.  That seems like a little over-kill for our level right now.  The Poynt terminal sounds interesting, but what is the cost?”  Then you can respond with another ownership question:   “Interesting that you should bring that up.  We have several different options.  Of course, you could buy the terminal outright at a cost of ______.  Or we have a great leasing option or rental program that would cost ________ per month.  You seem to be leaning toward the Poynt terminal.  Let’s say you DO go with that, which one of those options would interest you?  I can get you more information on it.”

Using ownership questions will help prospects think about already owning the service.  Here are two important tips:

  1. Stop griping that people aren’t buying when it just makes sense. Sales is not about making sense; it’s about you convincing people to buy!  If sales is a purely logical decision, you’ll be out of work quickly.  People can go online to make logical purchases, right?  Why would you be needed?  Sales people are about convincing – helping emotional responses evolve.  You are a SALES PERSON which means you have to sell people.  Sales is not a cool, logical choice; it’s emotional.  That’s why people buy because of their emotions, and then you give them the justification for that with your value proposition.
  2. Use ownership questions. Ask yourself how you can make ownership questions about your product or service.  Reread this article.  Listen to the ownership questions I used, and look at the wording.  Then decide you can make that work for your sales.

My name is James Shepherd.  Thank you for reading.

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