The Sales Rep’s Guide to Dealing With Risk-Averse Clients

Everyone in this business has run up against risk-averse buyers. Fear of the unknown and an unwillingness to commit purchasing dollars top the list of reasons for risk aversion. When it comes up, risk aversion can stall the deal; then we have the sometimes greasy job of cleaning the engine of the buying process and getting it restarted. But there are un-messy and effective ways of easing risk aversion. Better yet, you can proactively preempt it from the start. Below are tools for getting the risk averse—or those at risk for risk aversion—out of the danger zone and into their comfort zone.

Backup Data
Let applicable data such as white papers and case studies from your organization speak for themselves in support of your proposal. Share outside, independent studies and reports to further solidify your case and instill confidence in the client.

Make Lots of Inroads
Before you submit a proposal or make your presentation, engage multiple stakeholders. In doing so, you’ll minimize the risk that internal decisions from the client company will throw the negotiations into the dustbin just as you’re ready to close the deal. It also lessens the pressure your contact might be under to make a decision when insecurity is the driving factor in him/her.

Social proof is a great tool for helping to sway a client in the direction you want them to go—toward making a purchase. Use numbers to your advantage by sharing them with the customer. Do you have testimonials at the ready and numbers on your side? Good numbers to share are, for example: how your product “solutionized” the dilemmas of X number of customers. You won’t be bragging, just helping to put the client at ease during that crucial yes/no phase.

Call for Reinforcements
You know all those satisfied customers you have? Call on them for references. Chances are, Tom, Dick, and Harriet will be delighted to share with the world how great your products and services are. Take note that satisfied customer references are one of the most important tools you have for carving out a deal when a potential buyer is hampered by fear and indecision.

Keep Your Nose Clean
Always be transparent in your dealings with potential customers. Don’t promise them the proverbial rose garden when a bouquet of tulips, however gorgeous, is what you have to offer. The web has turned the world into one big, honking grapevine these days, and word travels fast. A negative online review can step on the toe of the foot you have in the door. It’s near impossible to polish a tarnished reputation and actualize a do-over when a customer decides, based on your history, that you are not at all the sort of sales rep they want to do business with.

Use tools like timelines, budgets, scope of work, deliverables, and more to meet and manage your customer’s expectations. Information flow instills trust and changes the customer’s perception, removing the risk factor and showing them the promising reality of what you have to offer: a really good solution to their problem.

The thing is, it’s risky enough to be in business these days: many sectors have increased competition, and budgets are tight. As a trusted advisor, put the client at ease. Let them know, without stating it explicitly, that putting their chips on you is a good bet.