Question: What is the difference between ignorance and apathy?
Answer: I don’t know and I don’t care!
Jokes aside, the apathetic buyer is a tough nut to crack. How do you deal with people who don’t care? Those that don’t think what you’re saying matters to them, and don’t believe they need what you’re selling.
There is absolutely no point trying to hard sell to the apathetic. Tactics that try to turn them around by proving a point or pitching why they need your product or service will likely result in you being shut down all together.
Opening the door to enthusiasm takes a more measured and clever approach.
Have your ear to the ground
Could it be they don’t really perceive they have a problem to solve, or need to fulfil? Perhaps they don’t understand the issues at play? Is it the fact that confronting the problem feels like a mountain, and as we are all guilty of doing at times their apathy is more about putting off the tough stuff? Or maybe they’ve made an unconscious decision to avoid being decisive, in the hope that someone else will make a decision for them?
Social research will help you understand the individual in just the same way as the business or market. Uncover the reasons for their apathy. Look for the clues in their profile, what they post, what they comment on. Look at what’s going on within their organisation, their customer base and the wider market to uncover the challenges they face. Look at what forums they are contributing to and start asking questions.
Finding their personal win can be just as important, the WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) question is difficult to truly answer. Researching the individual’s background, how they got to where they are and perhaps where they are aiming to go are good ways to tease out a personal win.
Warm them up
You’re not going to change their mind if they don’t know who you are. Your social footprint is just as important as theirs. Warm them up to the idea of change, and earn their trust by building social proof that you can help.
Share your successes, problems you’ve solved, and lessons learned along the way. Impart advice, and share insight. Look for use cases similar to theirs, and build out relevant content. Get recommendations from those you have in common.
Align yourself to them and raise awareness of what you have to offer – you might just start to pique their interest and get them talking.
Have the conversation
Use your influence to open the door to conversation, and once it’s open use your research to start engaging.
When it comes to the apathetic, it is about finding that sweet spot and channelling a conversation that is rooted in value, insight, relevance and education. Use that conversation to challenge them on several fronts.
Use the positive – what do they stand to gain both professionally and personally? Use the negative – discuss the consequences of not coming on board, and the opportunities that could be missed? Use the now – talk about how they currently do things, what irritates them, and what they would like to do differently? Use the future – where could they be if only they would open their minds to new ideas, and new ways of doing things?
Get them excited by getting them engaged.
Historian Arnold J Toynbee once said: “Apathy can be overcome by enthusiasm, and enthusiasm can only be aroused by two things: first, an ideal, which takes the imagination by storm, and second, a definite intelligible plan for carrying that ideal into practice.”
Turning buyer apathy to enthusiasm is not a hard sell, it is about focussing on what the ‘ideal’ looks like to the customer. Gather insight to discover their pain points, objections and concerns; their aspirations and goals. Use content to challenge negative thinking and educate. Use engagement to present them with a solution and a plan to make the ideal a reality.