Management Retail

Every customer has a ‘buy button’

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Every customer has a ‘buy button’

n last month’s article, I wrote about a friend of mine whose mom needed a set of tires. He didn’t tell me she drove a 2004 Corvette, nor did he tell me his mom, a grandmother, was very good at researching before buying.

I asked for the standard make, model and year information and, if possible, the exact tire size. When I received the information, her tire size along with some additional critical information, I should have gotten a clue early on. Not only did she provide the exact tire size, she specified a brand and type she didn’t want.

Her son gave me a bit of erroneous information about her budget, which I later realized threw me off track. The next day I gave him what I thought was a great quote on a great set of tires.

Well, grandma had us both fooled. My friend asked me what I was doing; his mom had chewed him up a bit. Actually, grandma had done her research and knew more about the particular run-flat tires for her car than we did.

I gained permission to re-quote the tires with the additional information, and it all worked out just fine.

In thinking about the transaction, the sales person in me analyzed the whole process. Besides the obvious mistake of making a recommendation based on invalid information, I wondered how I ended up making the right recommendation and she ended up with the right tires and completely satisfied.

Finding the ‘buy button’

Something inside me had told me the buy button was on. Grandma had done extensive research; she basically knew what she wanted; she knew product and pricing; she was ready to make the purchase. I really had the sale in the bag, so to speak. Even though we got off to a rough start, she was motivated, and she was going to buy tires soon! It’s a crime to lose a sale when the buy button is on.

The more I thought about the scenario, I was reminded that most all people have a buy button. The key is to find it and push it. The most effective sales person realizes this simple truth.

So how do you find the buy button or hot button? I’ve found, as have you, that more than ever today’s customers have done a fair amount of research before contacting a sales person, and much of that research is done online.

I’ve been smart enough lately to research the researcher; in other words, research the customer, research their research. If we ask the customer the right questions about their research, they will reveal to us their hot buttons.

Price customers are easier to spot; so often the conversation and exchange is about price, price, price. Even on a price call or conversation, I like to give a soft attempt at selling a better tire with a better warranty. Usually, the response tells me whether or not I can press a little harder.


Before you make your pitch, ask open-ended, fact-finding questions that will most certainly glean an indication of a potentially hidden buy button. Any indication from the customer will allow you to move in the proper direction, thereby discovering real reasons and motivations, which then gives you the laser focus to see and turn the buy button on. Once you have discovered the hot button(s), you can tie your product presentation to that feature or benefit. If the hot button is long mileage, then you talk about those features that maximize the mileage and, of course, the overall value.

Another technique that helps heat up the hot button is using the customer’s own words. If you tie the customer’s words to the feature or benefit they are hot about, then the end result will be a satisfied customer and the all-important sale.

How to handle the ‘cold fish’

Some customers are what I call cold fish. They seemingly have no buy button. They are my least favorite customers. I’m a talker, a salesman; I like to find the hot button and the buy button and go back and forth. When I run into a cold fish, I start with value. I just naturally assume that everybody wants a good deal on good stuff.

Sooner or later, the customer is going to say something that will help me help them. All we need is an opening.

We’re sales people; counter-intelligent sales people who find the hot buttons, switch them on and open the cash drawer!

I think I found my button; I feel like selling something to somebody!    ■

Wayne Williams is president of ExSell Marketing Inc., a “counter intelligence” firm based in La Habra, Calif. He can be reached at

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