Risk: an Overlooked Sales Thought

I’m working my way through the seminal sales classic “Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness” by Jeffrey Gitomer.

Short and sweet. A little annoying in certain sections, but the messages are golden.
Short and sweet. A little annoying in certain sections, but the messages are golden.

He’s offered salient advice — from tips on personal branding to broaching humour in consultations and having ample testimonials/referrals — though the one piece of insight that I really found intriguing was the element of risk.

The biggest barrier to a sale is the unspoken risk that a prospect perceives. -Jeffrey Gitomer

In the sales and psychology books I have read thus far, the topic of risk has either been mentioned loosely or not forayed into at all. Gitomer emphasizes it and drills the idea into the reader’s mind.

His main point is that you, as a salesperson, must reduce the customer’s risk. Seems simple enough, right? I would gander that in the process of highlighting a product or service’s fifty features, its price, how it’s better than the one offered by a competitor, etc., we forget about the consumer and his/her fear(s). Maybe it’s their first time purchasing anything like this. Conversely, they may have bought one before and had a negative experience. We need to allay these fears, offer the upside (reward versus risk) and show how others have been positively impacted by it (again, the power of social proof). If you’re exceptional, you might be able to transform the fear surrounding risk into fear of not procuring the product — 60% of people make purchases based on FOMO.

We can relate this notion of assuaging risk to product [management]. While considering personas, users’ wants & needs, use cases and pain points are all crucial, they are not enough for a full analysis. It is important to channel the user — place ourselves within them and their minds — and envision the risks they may have with the product. To me, sales is inherent in product design and management. We hope that by collecting the necessary data, scouring the market, doing our research, conducting interviews and developing the feature, product, etc., we can ‘sell’ the product to the consumer.

Knowing all this, user ‘risks’ (for example: cumbersome, frustrating or bland components of design, a controversial product image/past or what happens after a product’s honeymoon period) should be assessed and scrutinized when managing a product. Users will feel comfortable and ultimately, engagement, retention and customer experience/happiness should see upticks.



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