©2019 by Gary Witt.

  • Dr. Gary Witt

Making the Sale By Overcoming Their Doubts

Dr. Gary Witt Marketing Psychology


Let's say you want to buy a laptop. I have a new HP laptop I want to sell. Things are looking good. You say, "How much?" I say, "$1,500." You think it’s a little high, and decide to see if you can find a better price. If not, you'll buy my laptop. The only real roadblock in your mind is the price. If I'd offer it for $1,100, you'd take it without delay.


Now, imagine the same situation. When you say, "How much?", I say "$100." Silence. Why? It's far less than you wanted to pay. But now alarm bells are going off in your mind. Why is it so cheap? Is it stolen? Is it defective? A new element has entered the sales picture -- doubt.

Doubt is nearly always created by the seller through sensory cues like the location, appearance of the store or product, location, smell, unexpected sounds, and so on. If you are aware of what may produce doubt, and move to eliminate those sensory cues, you can prevent the buyer’s alarm bells from needlessly going off.


It is important for marketers to think about doubts for several reasons:

1. You need to be prepared to overwhelm any doubts the customer may raise.

2. Countering common doubts will give buyers a stronger sense of security in their purchase, increase your positive image, and, most importantly, encourage "fence sitters" to buy.

3. You need to be ready to respond to doubts created by your competitors' advertising.


Doubts usually fall into two areas of concern from the buyer's perspective.

First, "Is everything I've seen and heard truthful?" (They say it will get 40 mpg, but my friend only gets 15 mpg.)

Second, "Are they keeping anything from me? Have I forgotten to ask some critical question?" (The ad says ‘fully equipped,' but now they're saying the radio is extra. What else is extra?)

Doubts can often be erased by the addition of new information if the buyer finds the source credible. For example, the salesman might say, "Your friend only gets 15 mpg because he selected a far bigger engine." But even after offering legitimate, logical explanations, many customers will still decide to "look around." That's because doubt often cannot be simply erased by new facts. It is more complex than that.


Doubt, at its core, is not logical at all. It is emotional. I may have a perfectly logical explanation for my $300 laptop, but many buyers would still have a vague, emotional unease about buying it, just like they would about buying a Big Mac in the park ("I bought two and could only eat one. I'll sell the other for 50-cents. How about it?")


To overcome buyer doubt, you must focus on both the logical and emotional components creating doubt in the buyer's mind. While I address six specific steps you can take in another blog, here are some things to consider in persuading a doubtful customer.


1) Don't ignore, disregard, or make light of any objections -- it will seem disrespectful, and that will sink your ship. If you haven't already written down and answered the most common objections you and your team can think of, you have not done your due diligence.


2) Don't make up an answer just to have some response. Chances are it will either sound illogical or like gobbledygook, which will raise their suspicions more. If you don't have a legitimate answer, say you will get back to them within 24 hours, and then do it.


3) Remember that FEAR EMOTIONS are seldom fully assuaged by logical reasons. You need reasons for sure, but couple them with some additional information that has an emotional element -- a story is a good way to do this, about someone of the same gender who had the same doubts, overcame them, and reported a good outcome. Don't try to make these up on the spot! Have them ready in your toolbox.


4) Raise at least one common fear concern before they do. That will "prove" you aren't trying to hide anything, and that you have solid, doubt-erasing answers. Be especially aware of any fears that may relate to your key selling propositions, those features and satisfactions that are central to making sales.


5) Be aware that customers may have doubts or fears and simply not voice them. Watch for non-verbal cues. Ask, "Are there any things that concern you, that you have questions or worries about this deal?" Sometimes they just need you to open the door for them to say what is on their mind.


To read the "6 Steps to Eliminate Buyer Doubt" article, the companion to what you've just read, click here or see the list of articles.