Embracing the naive prospect

Many businesses cater to individuals and corporations that are making a once in a lifetime purchase. Whether it’s a DJ for your kids sweet 16 or a company that pours tar on the roof of your factory, it’s unlikely you’re an expert when you go to buy the product or service.

So, unlike a purchase from an educated consumer (shoes, for example, or a car or workman’s comp insurance) this purchase has very different rules. Jargon, for one, is missing, so it’s hard to communicate crisply. Education matters, because without the confidence to decide, the prospect will stall, or evade, or just move on. And trust is essential, because there’s so much fear on the line.

I think there are a few valid tactics to consider:

EDUCATE–not a little, but a lot. Run a school. A real honest to goodness school, online or off, by phone or by plane. If it’s important enough to me, I’ll attend.

BE TRANSPARENT–tell me all about your competitors. Sure, I might buy from you if you’re the only one I can think of, but I’m way more likely to buy from you if you have the confidence to give me a list of questions and a list of competitors.

A GUARANTEE might be worth less than you think. It certainly won’t help replace my ruined bar mitzvah!

REALIZE that your reputation might not precede you. In other words, it’s entirely possible that I have no clue who you are or what you’ve done before.

COMMUNITY–put me in a room with ten other people facing the same quandary. As we talk with each other, we’ll gain trust in you.

Most of all, I think it’s essential to acknowledge internally that your job is to turn naive, fearful new prospects into confident spreaders of word of mouth.

Or, intentionally ignore this market and demand jargon and a reference before you let me in the door. Either strategy can work. What doesn’t work is intidimidating the already intimidated.