Boy howdey, ain't it the truth. Good article Barbara. Years of selling personal services has taught me that the most important part of the deal is good rapport with the client and a good understanding of what they want as an outcome of the service.
What's Fear Got To Do With It?
A great deal if you are promoting services. And, the higher the cost, the greater the stakes for the buyer. Understanding your prospects fear equips you to skillfully navigate the stages of contact towards working together.
What's fear got to do with it? A great deal if you are promoting services. And, the higher the cost, the greater the stakes for the buyer.
If you buy a sweater, but get it home and find it doesn’t go with your pants after all, you return it. Buying services is another matter. What can you do if you don’t like your hair cut? Your shoulder surgery? Or your kitchen remodel?
If your professional was incompetent, you have recourse, but we are talking about something more common. We are talking about getting satisfaction from something invisible – a service.
How do we find these services in the first place? Would you select your dentist from an ad in a magazine?
Typically, we ask for referrals. Depending on the size of the purchase, we’ll interview and check references of professionals we are considering hiring.
Even so, we have no guarantees.
Just because you love an architect’s work, his clients rave about him, and you find him organized, responsive, and easy to talk to, you can’t be certain that you will love or be satisfied with the remodel of your house, or that the project will stay in budget, or on schedule. And if it isn’t, you can’t take it back to get one that works better.
That’s where fear comes in. Our prospects are afraid. They are taking the risk, and sometimes it is less risky to do nothing.
As we market and sell our services, we need to remember our prospects’ fear. They take a big risk when they hire us. Whether it is a one-hour massage or a one-year home remodel, they are worried about buying something they can’t see, feel, hear, or touch.
Most of us don’t know enough about medicine, plumbing, or car mechanics, to judge whether one professional is more competent than another. In fact, most professionals are competent. Once qualifications are established, the real question for prospects is determining which one will best meet their needs.
How do we make that decision?
Mostly we learn from others. We get referrals, then read web sites, size up professional accomplishments, hold interviews, discuss approaches, check references, and otherwise perform due diligence until we have a short list, or a decision.
But still there are no guarantees. How can we ease our prospects’ fears? We begin with our communications and marketing.
First, we have to stand in their shoes, and fully comprehend their risk in hiring us. Not a big deal for a one-hour massage? Think again – it could restimulate an old injury, leave you in pain, and require further treatment.
Don’t know what your prospects are risking when they hire you? Ask them what they are concerned about, and take notes. Use those insights to make your marketing more relevant as it communicates your understanding of their issues.
Second, we need to build familiarity. A familiar person, or a person referred by a friend is less risky. Communication and marketing strategies are all about becoming familiar to our potential clients. Some say it takes seven contacts to establish a relationship with someone.
We have begun a relationship – our prospect knows who we are – what comes next?
Third, we become liked. What does that mean in this context?
Being liked is the step between being known and being trusted. Our goal is to become liked and trusted enough to be on the short list to be hired.
In the process of becoming known, prospects have a chance to decide if they like us enough to hire us. Being liked is surprisingly important when your house will be under construction for a year, or you’ll visit the orthodontist every week for the next two years.
Fourth, we strive to become trusted.
In this dance of repeat contacts and communication, we offer our audience opportunities to know us in person when we meet or speak at events, and through our web sites, email newsletters, printed mailings, blogs, and social media. We offer less risky ways to try working with us: a free seminar, a trial period, a small project.
We work to create enough contacts to establish our credibility, our likeability, and any other ability needed for them to begin to trust us. Social media has given us some new dance steps, so we don’t always meet face to face before we work together, but human psychology still requires the dance of getting acquainted to build enough trust to take the next step.
Think about what it takes for you to trust someone you don’t know to do what they promise. Each of us is unique, and takes a different path to becoming ready to buy; yet trust itself is well understood.
My dictionary defines trust as the belief or confidence in the honesty, integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc. of a person or thing, or confidence or expectation of something; hope.
Belief. Hope. Confidence: these must be earned, and treated with great care when our clients take the risk, place their trust in us, and hire us to provide a service.
While many of us understand our clients’ and prospects’ fears intuitively, becoming aware of their risk can clarify how to communicate even more effectively. The extent to which we can address their fears, and put them at ease, the sooner they’ll trust us, and the greater their comfort will be in hiring us.
Know what your prospects are concerned about. Craft your marketing offerings to ease their fears. Be persistent, and make it easy for prospects to try you. Then they’ll see for themselves how you shine.
Learn more about the author, Barbara Breckenfeld.
Comment on this article
Posted by Alan Anderson, C Ht, Lynnwood, Washington |
Dec 03, 2009
Posted by Ruth Frobe, Seattle, Washington |
Dec 13, 2009
Good article! Asking the client what they want-- and then following up to ask if they got it --is key to success.
Thanks for your mention of massage therapy in the article, too :)
Posted by Jed Share, Seattle, Washington |
Mar 24, 2010
Another great article, right on target.
Posted by Ralph White, Henrico, Virginia |
Aug 04, 2010
Your article was well written and poibts out a lot of things that are normally taken for granted.
- professional services
- emotions in buying
- barbara breckenfeld