Examples of Perceived or Unspoken Buying Decisions
1. Bias – Some believe that goods made in certain countries are superior or flawed, e.g. “Typical German Engineering”, “Made in China”. Bias can also be some form of discrimination - you may remind the buyer of her ex-spouse (and she hates her ex-spouse).
2. Customer Affiliation – A customer may have some relationship with the seller, e.g. Alumnus of same university, the other company has "Paisanos” (fellow countrymen). I once dealt with what appeared to be a stubborn prospect and offered every point which could not be countered. Exasperated, I asked him why he would not consider us. He finally told me that he was an investor and consultant to a small competitor.
3. A Bad Taste From the Past – They were burnt in the past by your company directly or by an affiliate.
4.“The Invisible Hand” – There may be external decision makers pulling the strings or applying pressure, e.g. A customer whom they supply to may recommend another brand or the buyer's own upper management may have some undue influence, e.g. their company president is on the board of the company you are competing against (true story).
5. The “Underdog” Effect – Discussed in an earlier article, the buyer identifies with a scrappy competitor and wants to help them survive or succeed.
6. Personality Clash – They don’t like or trust the Sales person, Service person, etc. for some reason. Sometimes, bringing in your "Top Gun", an upper manager, can backfire if they are too aggressive and antagonize the customer. Some companies employ "diagnostic selling" using questions to understand the customer problem to the point of a "Spanish Inquisition" which puts the customer on the defensive.
So know that no matter how great a product or service you offer and how many valid customer value propositions that you can show...there are times when an unspoken or perceived factor may influence the buying decision. Try to discover them so that you can take corrective actions - a customer who likes and trusts you may be more open to share these issues.
There's an old joke about set minds:
A man goes to a Psychologist and says, "Doc, I got a real problem. I can't stop thinking about Whoopee." The Psychologist says, "Well, let's see what we can find out", and pulls out his ink blots. "What is this a picture of?" he asks. The man turns the picture upside down, then turns it around and states, "That's a man and a woman on a bed making whoopee." The Psychologist says, "very interesting," and shows the next picture. "And what is this a picture of?" The man looks and turns it in different directions and says, "That's a man and a woman on a bed making whoopee." The Psychologists tries again with the third ink blot, and asks the same question, "What is this a picture of?" The patient again turns it in all directions and replies, "That's a man and a woman on a bed making Whoopee." The Psychologist states, "Well, yes, you do seem to be obsessed with Whoopee." "Me!?" demands the patient. "You're the one who keeps showing me the dirty pictures!"