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Buyer’s Remorse

by David Brock on December 12th, 2011

Lauren Harper posed an interesting question at Focus.com:  “As a sales rep, how do you ensure your clients don’t get buyer’s remorse?”  It struck me as a key issue sales professionals overlook.

Think about it, during the sales process, we put on our best face, focusing on the customer, their needs, trying to create value, aligning with their buying process, helping them solve their problem.  Success, we get the order, we thank the customer, then we’re off to the next thing, another deal, another order.  After all, we achieved our goal, an order!

That’s where we go wrong, that’s where our real motivations are shown and we betray the customer.  During the customer buying process, we are focused on solving their problem, we are absolutely aligned with the customer.  Once we get the order, our job isn’t over–because the customer’s job isn’t over.  They still haven’t solved their problem.  They have just made a decision about the solution, but they still have to solve their problem.  If we abandon them, or change how we are engaging them, after we get the order–the customer recognizes that. 

The customer realizes that we weren’t really trying to help them solve their problem, that we only were interested in the order.  They begin to wonder, rightfully so, they may have made the wrong decision.

It’s important to realize that we sold a solution to the customer’s problem—so the sale isn’t over until the customer has solved their problem!  If the sales person disappears after receiving the order, then the customer has right to be remorseful even angry.  If it’s a customer we want to be able to sell to again, then we’ve made our job more difficult–as much as we claim we are customer focused, that we want to help them solve their problem, their past experience shows them what we really care about is the order, the rest is just positioning to get the order.

The sales process doesn’t stop until the customer solves their problem and achieves the goals they had hoped to achieve.  As sales professionals, it’s our job to start setting the expectations of what will be done during the sales process, whether it’s an implementation plan, introducing the customer to the people that will be supporting them after the order, or something else.  Immediately after the order (and thanking the customer for it), the sales person has to lay out the next steps and set the expectations.  The role of the sales person may diminish, but it’s never over.  Afterall, it’s the sales person that the customer has the principal relationship with.

The sales person should always follow up through the implementation process, and even after it’s completed.  Is the customer achieving what they expected?  Do we need to do something else?  Are they satisfied?  Do we need to take any corrective action?

If we position ourselves as selling solutions, if the customer is buying because we have committed to solve their problem, then the selling process does not end with the order.  It only ends when the customer has achieved their goals.  Even then, it doesn’t stop–if we have helped them achieve success, we will want to explore what’s next.  They will be enthusiastic in doing this if we have worked with them in the implementation.

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4 Comments
  1. Jim permalink

    Dave, your description of the ‘buyers remorse’ syndrome is accurate. Just a quick comment … in some businesses, buyer’s remorse will begin as soon as the sales person and the customer shake hands and part company after “the sale has been made”. It’s a failure of validation, and once it begins it is best kept under control with effective communication. Assuming the sales solution itself is valid, the remorse the customer experiences is exponential in it’s relationship to the time between contacts with the customer. To manage buyer’s remorse, master the art of follow-up communication.

    • Jim, great comment and observation. We can’t stop communication just because we have shaken hands. We not only want to make sure the customer is successful, but we want to go back to them, building the relationship, selling more, and leveraging them for references. If we disapper immediately after the sale, none of that can happen–a lost opportunity.

  2. Hi David,
    your comments are spot on.
    A sales trainer of mine once said it’s important to prepare your client for their interactions after they buy. People will question their decision. He used to take the customer through those questions AFTER the client placed the order. “What will you say when your brother says …?” This was aimed mostly at B2C sales but has some relevance to B2b too. It’s future pacing them to remember the benefits your product offers.

    • Greg, making sure the customer remembers the benefits following the purchase is important. While this may be wordsmithing, I think we have to go further. Our job isn’t done until the customer has achieved the goals they had in making the purchase. Until they get what they wanted, our job is not finished.

      It can go further. Once they’ve achieved the results, are they providing the referral? Are they looking for the next step and how we can help them achieve it. Stopping with the order is short sighted, there is so much more that can be done.

      Thanks for the comment.

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