When “Know, Like, and Trust” Doesn’t Matter

When "Know, Like, and Trust" Doesn't MatterOctober 13, 2020

A neighbor of mine just had a new standby power generator installed for his home, replacing an older unit.

I was surprised to see this installation for several reasons. To begin with, home standby generators aren’t a common feature of homes in my part of the country. I don’t know anyone else in our neighborhood who owns one. Nationwide, it’s estimated that less than 3% of all U.S. households have a standby electric generator installed.

Further, by all outward appearances, this man would not be a great prospect for a whole home generator salesperson. He’s now retired. I know that he and his wife have considered selling and downsizing, and generators of the size he bought stay with the home. In addition, he’s got a reputation for being cheap, one he gets good naturedly teased about. Generators aren’t one of those home improvement features which generate a positive return when the house is sold. So the idea of this thrifty-minded guy buying a generator which costs somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000, depending on the size of the unit, was eyebrow raising.

If you make your living selling whole home generators, you might look at this guy and think he’s your lowest likely-to-buy prospect. You would have been wrong.

Maybe my neighbor’s background in the insurance industry makes him risk averse. Maybe he’s had a previous bad experience with an extended power outage. Maybe a recent fall makes him value knowing lights will always be available, so he’ll always be able to see where he’s going.

Whatever the reason for his purchase, my neighbor had outcomes in his mind he wanted to achieve, one not apparent by outward appearances. He’s willing to write a significant check for those outcomes, all visible evidence to the contrary.

For me, I have no interest in this product. I’m willing to live with the risk that the power may occasionally and I have to go pull out the candles. If you’re the whole home generator salesperson, it doesn’t matter how much I might like and trust you.

This is where the old cliché about how “people do business with people they know, like, and trust” comes up short. “Know, like, and trust,” is vital, yet a customer must be motivated to buy. As with my neighbor, those motives are not immediately apparent.

The only way you would have known of my neighbor’s motivations is to have a value conversation. It’s a dialogue focused on the desires, hopes, dreams, and tastes of the client sitting in front of you—their values--instead of the features and benefits of whatever you are selling.

In his book The Secret of Selling Anything, Harry Browne writes:

Everyone is already motivated. The only question is “By what?” Your job is to find out what it is that motivates your prospect . . . . Don’t confuse products with motivations. No one ever buys a product. He buys what the product will accomplish. He buys because there’s something he wants for his life. Your job is to find out what that something is.

As a professional services provider, if you don’t have the patience to have a value conversation, then you don’t understand the client who’s sitting in front of you. You may think you do, but what you think you know may simply be your preconceptions.

And if you don’t understand the motivations driving that client, then your pricing will be wrong. Guaranteed.


Image Credit:  Generac Power Systems

©Ray Business Advisors, LLC and John Ray


About me:  I’m enthusiastic about how changes in pricing strategy can significantly change profitability for a business and enhance life choices for business owners. I live this passion through Ray Business Advisors, my outside CFO and business advisory practice, in which my pricing is exclusively value-based, not hourly. I work with business owners on how they can change their pricing not just to increase their profits, but better serve the wants of their customers. Click here to learn more or call me at 404-287-2627.

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