Sales: How To Overcome Buyer Inertia

Like an object at rest, an inactive buyer will remain so until acted upon by an external force. Here, Paul Reilly discusses how to create enough force to move the buyer.

Unless acted upon by an external force, an object at rest will remain at rest. In physics, this is called inertia. Galileo discovered this law in the 1600’s. Although inertia is rooted in the field of physics, the concept also applies to sales.

A buyer at rest will remain at rest until acted upon by an external force. How often do you suffer from buyer inertia?

Too often, salespeople present similar solutions and promise a benefit the buyer is already receiving. A buyer won’t change until they see a need to change. Why would a buyer risk switching suppliers to experience more of the same? Even if your solution is marginally better, the buyer will remain “at rest.” There needs to be a greater force.

As a last (or first) resort, some salespeople offer a discounted price. Buyers want more than a cheap price. In fact, our internal research shows acquisition price ranked eleventh on a twelve-point list. This means there are ten things more important than price. A marginal discount is the same as a marginal benefit, it’s not enough. The lure of a cheap price is not a great enough force to move a buyer “at rest.”

There is a force great enough to move a buyer “at rest,” your value added.

Value added is everything you do to something from the moment you buy it, sell it, service it, or transfer it to someone else. Your value added is only limited to your imagination. For every salesperson that exists, there is a unique way to add value.

To create an external force powerful enough to move the buyer, ask yourself this question: 

What can I personally offer this customer that nobody else can? 

I once met a salesperson who sold artificial knee replacements. Although this business seems niche, it’s extremely competitive. He would regularly win business at a premium. He offered something none of his competitors could. This salesperson was knowledgeable on website design and search engine optimization (SEO). He offered doctors value-added website consulting services. He helped doctors grow their practice in a way that his competition could not.

Your value added is the external force that moves an “at-rest” buyer. A slightly cheaper price and more of the same are not enough. Dig deep and audit the value you deliver. Consider the unique value your company delivers and how it impacts the buyer. Focus on the unique value of your products and avoid generic claims. Finally, use your personal expertise to add value. Every salesperson is unique in the ways they can add value. Discover your unique value by asking, “What can I personally offer this customer that nobody else can?”

Paul Reilly is president of Reilly Sales Training, a St. Louis-based, privately-owned company that specializes in training sales professionals, sales managers and service professionals. Call Paul at 636-778-0175 or email [email protected].

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