Every time you buy something, you deal with your fears. They may be tiny enough for you to ignore them; but the size of those fears could destroy the common sales truism “People don’t like being sold to, they like to buy”. Risk reversal is about dealing with those risks, so people don’t fear getting bitten and like to buy from you.

Moray eel attempting to bite somebody, as a metaphor for the fears buyers have of being bitten. Risk reversal removes this fear.

Diana was stressed, worried about the state of her marriage and wondering what would happen. Normally a very decisive person,  her stress levels meant she was finding it harder and harder to make decisions, even simple ones. She was more afraid of looking foolish at work when she chose a new supplier, more worried that the lawyer she chose wouldn’t be supportive all the way through her divorce. As a result she key putting off her buying decisions, which in turn increased the stress.

When we buy anything, there are fears associated with the decision. The bigger, more complex or more intangible the service (or product), the bigger the fears tend to be. The mental state of the purchaser can also affect the importance of those fears.

If you had a choices of two service provider and for one there were fewer fears – you’d be more likely to choose them.

Four fears of buyers

  1. We don’t want to appear stupid. We worry about what others will think. Think about presentations you’ve sat through, at first nobody puts their hand up, and then everybody wants to ask a question. It happens when buying services too. We talk to friends and family about our purchase, we naturally to want to impress them that we made a good choice. We certainly don’t want to be viewed as having made the wrong choice. This can be even more important in business when our career or professional reputation may be affected.
  2. We worry about paying too much. “Ripped off”, “paid over the odds”, “found it cheaper the next day”.
  3. We worry about being disappointed. What happens if the service provider doesn’t deliver; what if they don’t fulfil their promise? I used to buy audio books, and love listening to them when driving; but my library is full of books I’ve stopped listening to after the first chapter. Now I don’t buy many.
  4. We fear change. Without going into a large discussion about change management, we are all wary of change. This morning I spent at least 20 minutes on autopilot and I bet you did too. Did you think about how to clean your teeth, how to change gear in the car, steer the car, turn off the alarm in the office, etc.? We get through every day by making many processes automatic. Any change will disrupt some of those processes. If my purchase will disrupt less of them it’s an easier decision.

Risk reversal

The more you can minimise the fears of your buyers, the easier you make their buying decision and the more likely they are to buy from you.

  • Reducing general risks: It’s common to offer a money back guarantee in shops; some retailers also have a price promise. These can help to neutralise some of the buyer’s risks.
  • Specific risk reversal: The more you focus on a niche, the more you understand your typical buyer. This allows you to focus on specific fears that people have in your niche and consider risk reversal specifically targeted at them. It’s a great way to demonstrate that you are the The Go-To Expert

What would work for you?

  • “No win no fee”
  • A price promise:  Works if you are selling on price
  • A product ladder: Helping them to buy in small steps.
  • A guarantee against their biggest fears. By talking about things your typical buyer is afraid of, and neutralising those risks you are doing two things. It’s a great risk reversal and reinforces that you understand your buyers.
  • Satisfaction guarantee: This can help with risk reversal, but normally has so many caveats it becomes confusing.
  • Testimonials:  help reduce risk, although don’t reverse it.

As you think about your sale process, your buyers and their fears risk reversal becomes more effective; what would work for you?

Jon BakerWritten by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Networking is a key part of getting great results in small firms. If you want great networking tips sent to your desk once a month, click here and I will start sending them to you, so you can make a real difference to your referrals.