Impulse purchases are often encouraged in the B2C world and will form a key part of a company’s marketing strategy, but when it comes to B2Bs, trying to land sales in this way is likely to backfire. You may end up watching your precious sale crumble as a buyer decides to pull out at the last minute, despite everything being agreed and in place – and it’s all thanks to dreaded ‘buyer’s remorse’.
But it’s not only impulse purchases that can fall victim to buyer’s remorse and sales don’t fall through for this reason alone.
So, what can B2Bs do to combat the issue of buyers suddenly getting cold feet and thinking of backing out?
1) Stop buyer’s remorse before making the sale
The most effective way to battle buyer’s remorse is to do everything in your power to prevent it during the sales process. Here’s how:
- Qualify buyers well
Don’t just sell to anyone. Now we realise that may be easier said than done, as walking away from a deal – particularly a lucrative one – is a very hard thing to do. However, if the buyer isn’t fully qualified then you’re likely to come up against buyer’s remorse in the end (and potentially even seller’s remorse too!). This often happens when cultural differences have been ignored.
If your potential client ticks all the right boxes, is the right size, has the money, needs the product and wants it now, but their work ethos and values are opposed to your own, then it could end up as a very unpleasant situation.
For example, a small supplier could end up dealing with a huge global enterprise. On paper, it looks like they’ve landed the deal of the century, but as time passes, they realise it’s anything but. Dealing with the large company is not easy. They cannot adjust quickly to any changes and the supplier ends up on the losing end because they simply don’t have the resources to stick it out. Then the customer becomes unhappy because they’re not delivering. It’s all gone wrong because of bad qualification and a client being accepted who wasn’t the right fit.
- Keep pushing the benefits
You need to keep hammering home the benefits of your product or service before a sale closes. Make it completely clear to a buyer what they will gain from the transaction. You are in the business of providing genuine value to your client. That value needs to be spelt out and made crystal clear. If it isn’t, then a buyer may start asking themselves why they want the deal, or feel they aren’t going to get the value they thought. It can take a concerted effort to talk less about features and more about benefits, but it’s crucial for preventing buyer’s remorse.
- Set correct expectations
This doesn’t only mean in terms of the value of the product or service but also how it will all happen. That means setting expectations about what processes need to be implemented, who is going to be on the team, and what can be expected from them and when. There is nothing worse than failing to discuss and agree all this, then facing problems, delays and issues because there’s a mismatch between what is expected and what is delivered. This is true for both sides. Not only does the client need to know this about you, but you also need to know what to expect from your client. Take the example above with the big corporation. If you expect to get quick answers from them and in reality, it takes a month to go through the chain of command, then you will end up frustrated and any plans will go out the window. Check everything beforehand and clear up as many potential issues as you can.
- Assist with due diligence
This issue forms a big part of consultative selling nowadays. Buyers will do their own research but sometimes they may not know where to look to find the correct information. If you provide everything they need to be able to make a truly informed decision, then you’ll be setting yourself up for not only a closed sale but a happy customer. When you go through the info with them, you can counteract any objections that may come up and also gain more of an insight into what is particularly important to them, which could prove very valuable for future communications.
- Avoid too much risk taking
If you’re trying to land a new client and pitch them a 3 year service agreement with 5 consultants, then it will not only be difficult to get the sale but also to combat any remorse happening on either side. You don’t want them to have doubts and start asking themselves ‘Should we go with this small company we don’t know yet?’. You can avoid this by breaking your offer down into smaller chunks which come with less risk attached. Start working with them and prove yourself, then your new client will know they’ve made the right decision in choosing to work with you.
- Ask them why they want to buy
Before you get a new client to sign on the dotted line, always ask them why they are doing it, and get them to be as specific as possible. Note down of all the points they make and have that list to hand after the sale is closed, to remind them of their reasons. Then of course, make sure you deliver what they are expecting!
2) Deliver outstanding service during and after the sale
It goes without saying that if you deliver shoddy products or a dismal service then you won’t be in business very long. But even if your product is outstanding, don’t just sell it and move on. Remember, it is a lot easier and cheaper to keep a client happy and on board than to find a new one.
Reassure them that they have made the right choice through constant, high quality service. Go the extra mile, send them a thank you note and make sure they have all the information they need. This may include a list of all the people who are relevant to their purchase, what they are responsible for and their contact details. All things which may come in really handy.
And we can’t stress enough – under promise and over deliver. It can be a very powerful strategy.
Plus, make it easy for your own employees, in any department, to deliver outstanding customer service. Check that all internally-held data about the client (your CRM) is up to date and that you have all the relevant information. Are all their contact details in there? For example, your accounts team will need the contact details for the client’s accounting department.
3) Stay in contact
Sending a thank you note is nice but what happens after 3 weeks? 3 months? A year? Depending on the nature of your business you need to set up some kind of ‘let’s stay in valuable and enriching contact’ process. Whether that means you pick up the phone every now and then, send an email, or make contact in any other way, it should definitely be done.
Think about how you could help the client achieve more. For example, could you help connect them with interesting people they might want to meet? Or invite them to any events you’re hosting? B2B in-person events can be particularly successful when current and potential customers are mixed together. This can accelerate your pipeline and keep everyone happy.
If it would work for your kind of business, then consider introducing some sort of loyalty programme, or facilitate an online group for existing clients where they can chat, exchange information and network.
4) Fess up when you mess up
Trying to hide or ignore problems will only make them worse. We live in a world where the values of transparency, honesty and integrity are highly prized. If you’ve messed up then bite the bullet, address what’s happened and do your best to remedy the situation. This will ultimately earn you brownie points and make your clients truly happy. Things happen, it’s a fact of life, so it’s always best to address issues swiftly and with an understanding for how the other person may feel.
5) Examine your buyer journey and touch points
If buyer’s remorse is happening more often than it should then it’s probably time to analyze and review the entire buying process in greater detail. What journey do customers go through? Look at every touch point – i.e. any moment where a customer will come into contact with you. Think what improvements could be made. For any interaction, remember that being friendly, positive and helpful is always going to help you win the client over and is the best way to encourage retention, repeat business and referral.
When buyer’s remorse rears its ugly head, it can have serious implications for a sale. What these five steps show is that you can take action to try and manage it, long before any potential doubts creep in. It’s about counteracting any potential fears, while reassuring and reminding customers of the value and benefits they will be receiving through their purchase. By recognising the triggers and times when doubts may arise and answering them before they even happen, you’ll be well on your way to landing a solid deal.