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Psychology of Buyers

The Skeptic

13 min
Average Score

Matt Doyon

Chief Executive Officer @ Triple Session

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In this session, we'll delve into the transformative concepts of "The Challenger Sale" and "The Challenger Customer." These game-changing ideas have revolutionized the world of consultative sales, and understanding them can be a game-changer for your career.

The Three Pillars: Teach, Tailor, and Take Control

In this session, you'll learn that the heart of successful consultative sales revolves around three key pillars: teaching, tailoring, and taking control. Let's break them down:

1. Teaching:

Teaching isn't just about sharing information; it's about offering your clients a new perspective on their business. In "The Challenger Sale," we learn that successful sales reps challenge their clients' thinking by teaching them something new – be it a fresh approach to solving a problem or seizing an exciting opportunity.

2. Tailoring:

Every client is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. The art of tailoring involves customizing your sales approach to fit your client's specific needs and situation. By tailoring your solutions, you demonstrate a deep understanding of your client's world, which builds trust and rapport.

3. Taking Control:

Taking control in the sales process is about guiding your client through each step with confidence and precision. It's knowing who the key players are, what needs to happen next, and how to ensure a successful outcome. By taking control, you become a trusted advisor rather than a passive observer.

The Challenger Customer's Influence

Now that we've covered the fundamentals of The Challenger Sale, let's dive into the realm of The Challenger Customer. This groundbreaking book emphasizes the importance of understanding who you're dealing with inside your client's organization. After all, not all stakeholders are created equal.

Driving Change and Building Consensus

In the customer's world, there are two primary objectives: driving change and building consensus. However, accomplishing these goals can be challenging when you're dealing with a complex buying team of five to six individuals. "The Challenger Customer" identifies seven different buyer profiles, but we'll focus on one that's particularly intriguing: the Skeptic.

Meet the Skeptic

The Skeptic is a buyer profile that will put your skills and solutions through rigorous testing. They excel at challenging the status quo and finding flaws in proposals. Here's what you need to know about working with a Skeptic:

Strengths of the Skeptic

  • Comprehensive Analysis: Skeptics leave no stone unturned. They provide a thorough examination of your solution, their team, and the challenges at hand.
  • Team Players: Skeptics are team-oriented and prioritize the betterment of the business as a whole.
  • Great Planners: They excel at risk assessment and preparedness, ensuring you're ready to handle objections.
  • Credibility: Skeptics have a reputation for making well-informed decisions, and when they back your solution, it carries weight.

Weaknesses of the Skeptic

  • Analysis Paralysis: Skeptics can get bogged down in overanalyzing, leading to delayed decisions.
  • Focus on "Why Nots": They tend to focus on potential problems rather than envisioning a compelling future.
  • Reluctance to Take Risks: Skeptics are risk-averse and may hesitate to commit to a specific solution.

Identifying and Working with Skeptics

Identifying a Skeptic early in the process is crucial. They are known for their detailed questions and critical thinking. Listen for their concerns about the status quo and their resistance to the current state. As you progress, provide them with data and answers that address their skepticism.

Guiding Skeptics through the Sales Process

  • Awareness Stage: Encourage them to question the status quo and why it's unsustainable.
  • Early Consideration: Leverage their analytical skills by providing data and facts.
  • Late Consideration: Simplify your message and focus on the why and how of change.
  • Final Decision: Emphasize the risks of maintaining the status quo and the benefits of change.

Remember, you must lead Skeptics to a decision. There's no room for indecision. By mastering the art of working with Skeptics, you can navigate complex sales processes with confidence and effectiveness.

"The Challenger Sale" and "The Challenger Customer" offer invaluable insights into the world of consultative sales. By embracing the principles of teaching, tailoring, taking control, and understanding the various buyer profiles, including the Skeptic, you can elevate your sales game and drive meaningful change for your clients. To dive even deeper into the world of Skeptics, watch this session for an in-depth exploration of their strengths and weaknesses. Practice makes progress, and by honing your skills, you'll become a formidable force in the world of consultative sales.

You'll learn about the Skeptic buyer profile, one of the Mobilizers identified in "The Challenger Customer." Discover their unique strengths and weaknesses in the buying process and how they challenge the status quo to drive change within their organizations.

The Power of Teaching, Tailoring, and Taking Control

"The Challenger Sale" introduced us to the concept that successful sales involve teaching, tailoring, and taking control of conversations. But what about the customers? "The Challenger Customer" takes us deeper into the world of buyers, introducing us to various buyer profiles that sales professionals encounter during the consultative sales process.

Mobilizers: The Key to Driving Change and Consensus

Among these profiles, there are three pivotal ones known as Mobilizers or Champions. These are the individuals who can help you navigate the complexities of the buyer's journey, driving change and building consensus within their organizations. And one of the most intriguing Mobilizers is the Skeptic.

The Skeptic's Strengths

Skeptics are renowned for their ability to scrutinize and question everything. They don't take things at face value; instead, they challenge the status quo relentlessly. This innate skepticism grants them a unique set of strengths:

1. Comprehensive Understanding

Skeptics excel at gaining a complete understanding of your solution, the team involved, and the challenges at hand. Their constant questioning ensures they leave no stone unturned, providing you with a thorough insight into their world.

2. Team Player Mentality

Like all Mobilizers, Skeptics are excellent team players. They empathize with their colleagues and strive to drive change and consensus for the betterment of the entire organization, not just their own interests.

3. Exceptional Planning Skills

Skeptics are meticulous planners. They rigorously test every aspect of a plan, identifying potential pitfalls and objections. This scrutiny prepares you to handle objections effectively.

4. High Credibility

Their reputation as Skeptics makes them highly credible within their organizations. They only endorse a solution once it has met their stringent standards, adding weight to your offering.

The Skeptic's Weaknesses

While Skeptics bring valuable strengths to the table, they also possess certain weaknesses that you should be aware of:

1. Analysis Paralysis

Skeptics can become trapped in over-analysis. They endlessly evaluate implications, consequences, and repercussions, sometimes to the point of inaction.

2. Focus on Negatives

They tend to focus more on the reasons "not" to proceed rather than the reasons "to" move forward. This can hinder their ability to tell a compelling story about the benefits of your solution.

3. Risk Aversion

Skeptics are risk-averse and demand extensive data and information before committing to a decision. They may hesitate to endorse a specific solution until all potential risks have been addressed.

Identifying a Skeptic

Recognizing a Skeptic early in the process is crucial. Here's how you can identify them:

  • They challenge the status quo vehemently, emphasizing why the current state cannot continue.
  • They ask numerous questions, seeking to understand every detail.
  • They focus on "why not" rather than "why."

Navigating the Skeptic's Journey

Working effectively with a Skeptic requires a tailored approach throughout their buying process. Here's how you can support them at each stage:

Awareness Stage

Start by highlighting why the current situation is unsustainable and why they should abandon it. Encourage them to question the status quo internally.

Early Consideration

Provide data, facts, and figures to feed their appetite for information. Use their analytical nature to build a compelling case.

Late Consideration

Break the vision into smaller, manageable steps, focusing on why they should proceed. Balance their skepticism with a clear path forward. Remind them of the initial reasons for rejecting the status quo. Encourage them to make a decision rather than opting for inaction.

Understanding the Skeptic buyer profile is essential for successful consultative selling. Leverage their strengths, mitigate their weaknesses, and guide them through each stage of their journey to drive change and build consensus. Watch this session to delve deeper into mastering the art of working with Skeptic buyers and achieving sales success. Practice truly makes progress in the world of consultative sales.

Skeptic buyers can be challenging, but they can also be your greatest allies if approached correctly. With this session, you'll gain valuable insights into strategies for identifying, engaging, and ultimately winning over skeptic buyers.

Understanding the Strengths of Skeptic Buyers

Skeptic buyers are known for their analytical nature, and this can work to your advantage. They have a remarkable ability to gather extensive information about your solution, the team, and the challenges at hand. Skeptics are natural pressure testers; they question everything, from their own business processes to potential solutions and even other people involved in the buying decision. This means that early in the sales process, you'll receive a thorough analysis of their needs, which can be invaluable in tailoring your approach.

One of the standout qualities of skeptic buyers is their team-oriented mindset. They empathize with their colleagues and aim to drive change and build consensus within the organization. They prioritize the improvement of the business as a whole, which makes them great team players and potential allies in your sales journey. Skeptics are also skilled planners, meticulously scrutinizing every aspect to identify potential flaws and failures, thus preparing you to handle objections effectively. Lastly, they hold significant credibility in the organization because they only move forward when all expectations are met.

Navigating the Weaknesses of Skeptic Buyers

Despite their strengths, skeptic buyers have weaknesses you should be aware of. They tend to get caught up in analysis paralysis, continuously examining implications, consequences, and repercussions. Sometimes, they struggle to make decisions due to a never-ending quest for more information. Additionally, skeptics often focus on why not to take action rather than why they should, which can hinder effective storytelling and vision casting.

Another challenge is that they may be risk-averse, requiring a high level of data and analysis before committing to a solution. This aversion to risk can slow down the sales process. As a sales professional, understanding these weaknesses is crucial to crafting your approach effectively.

Identifying Skeptic Buyers Early in the Process

Recognizing a skeptic buyer early in the sales process is essential for tailoring your approach. Skeptics tend to reveal themselves during the early stages of consideration. They will scrutinize the current state (Status Quo) extensively and highlight its problems and challenges. They'll also bombard you with questions, often challenging your assumptions and evidence. Their aim is not to obstruct but to gather as much information as possible to make an informed decision.

Listening carefully to their detailed analysis of the current state and their skepticism towards it can provide valuable insights. It's also essential to address their questions and concerns with well-founded answers, as this will help build trust and confidence.

Effective Engagement Throughout the Buyer's Journey

Engaging with skeptic buyers effectively throughout the buyer's journey requires a well-thought-out approach. During the awareness stage, focus on why they should reject the Status Quo. Encourage them to explore the challenges and problems with their current state. In early consideration, leverage their analytical mindset by providing data, facts, and figures that support your solution. Build the evidence they need to move forward.

In late consideration, balance their skepticism with vision and storytelling. Break down the future state into manageable steps, addressing the why and how of each. Don't overwhelm them with a grand narrative; keep it focused and straightforward.

Finally, as you approach the final decision stage, remind them of their initial skepticism about the Status Quo. Emphasize that their choice is not between your solution and another but between change and the stagnation of the current state. Make it clear that a decision must be made.

Mastering the art of working with skeptic buyers can significantly improve your consultative sales process. Identifying their strengths and weaknesses, recognizing them early in the process, and engaging effectively throughout the buyer's journey are key steps to winning them over. By tailoring your approach to their analytical nature and addressing their skepticism with data and a compelling vision, you can turn skeptics into enthusiastic advocates for your solution. Watch this session to learn more about this topic and enhance your sales skills. Remember, practice makes progress.

Understanding how to handle Skeptic buyers and capitalize on their unique strengths is crucial for a successful sales session.

Leveraging the Strengths of Skeptic Buyers

Skeptic buyers have some remarkable strengths that can work to your advantage during the sales process. They are masters at getting a complete picture of your solution, your team, and the challenges at hand. Skeptics leave no stone unturned, challenging everything in their path, which includes your offering. When dealing with them in the early stages, expect to receive a comprehensive set of questions and concerns.

One of the key strengths of Skeptic buyers is their team-oriented approach. They empathize with their colleagues and focus on driving change and building consensus for the greater good of the business. This makes them excellent team players who prioritize the "we" over the "I."

Moreover, Skeptics are meticulous planners. They excel at analyzing the potential pitfalls and shortcomings of any plan, which prepares you to address objections effectively. Additionally, they enjoy a high level of credibility within their organizations because they only move forward when all the details are met, and expectations are exceeded.

Identifying Skeptic Buyers Early in the Process

Identifying a Skeptic buyer in the early stages of the sales process is crucial. They tend to reveal themselves by scrutinizing the current status quo relentlessly. You'll notice that they are quick to question the existing situation, highlighting all its flaws and challenges. They'll provide you with a detailed analysis of why the status quo is no longer sustainable, helping you understand their skepticism.

Furthermore, Skeptic buyers are characterized by their incessant questioning. They will challenge your assumptions, evidence, and recommendations. This questioning approach is not meant to deter you but rather to gather as much information and data as possible to make an informed decision. As they are risk-averse, it's essential to provide well-founded answers to their questions and concerns.

Navigating the Sales Process with Skeptic Buyers

To successfully guide Skeptic buyers through the sales process, you must tailor your approach to their unique characteristics. This process can be broken down into several stages:

1. Awareness Stage

During the initial contact with Skeptic buyers, focus on highlighting why they should say "no" to the status quo. Encourage them to be skeptical about their current situation and express why it is no longer viable. By emphasizing the need for change, you can start to gain their trust and interest.

2. Early Consideration Stage

Skeptics thrive on data and facts. As you progress into the early consideration stage, provide them with the numbers, evidence, and figures they need. Remember that they've already scrutinized their situation internally, so your job is to reinforce their belief in the necessity of change.

3. Late Consideration Stage

In this phase, you'll need to balance their skepticism by presenting a clear and compelling vision of the future state. Break down the transformation into smaller, manageable steps and provide them with reasons "why" they should move forward. Skeptics may struggle with painting a rosy picture of the future, so it's essential to guide them in this aspect.

4. Final Decision

As you approach the final decision stage, remind Skeptic buyers of their initial skepticism towards the status quo. Emphasize the risk of doing nothing and make it clear that they are making a decision, whether it's to stay the same or move forward. Avoid letting them slip into analysis paralysis by reinforcing the importance of taking action.

In conclusion, Skeptic buyers can be challenging, but when handled correctly, they can become your strongest allies in the sales process. By understanding their strengths and weaknesses and tailoring your approach accordingly, you can effectively close deals with even the most skeptical of buyers. So, watch this session to learn more about the art of securing commitment from Skeptic buyers and boosting your sales success. Remember, practice makes progress.

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