Asymmetrical information between a seller and a buyer can either stall a sale or result in downward price pressure. When a seller makes an value assertion that a buyer does not understand then the seller is asking the buyer to take a risk–a leap of faith–that the seller’s product, performance, and service claims are credible. Call it Used Car Syndrome. Too often this results in a “trust me” scenario. Among skeptical buyer’s “trust me” may be translated to “buyer beware.” Nobody wants to buy a lemon.
Air filtration is a perfect example of this asymmetry. Modern air filters are amazing! Great salespeople know that these products provide legitimate benefits. But for the everyday consumer the idea of spending good money on a fancy (read: expensive) air filter may seem unnecessary because air quality is difficult to quantify or qualify. Information asymmetry occurs and the consumer opts out of a product that can significantly improve her quality of life or decides she wants the product at a reduced price because of the possibility that the salesperson’s claims are overstated.
Over the weekend I was staring at the canister in our vacuum cleaner. It was filled up with the stuff in the picture. Dust, gunk, dog hair, weird little cracker bits. The Missus keeps our house very clean, vacuums all the time, yet there’s this mess of stuff. To me, the sheer sight and smell of the muck illustrated the importance of great filtration. I bagged it up in a sandwich bag. It made the invisible visible and helped bridge the gap between information asymmetry and real-world progress.
In order to bridge the gap between knowledge and understanding, asymmetry and balance, a salesperson needs to evaluate her value proposition:
- What claims or assertions do I make regarding my product (durable, quiet, easy to use)?
- What claims or assertions do I make regarding user-gains that may be unfamiliar to a buyer (saves money, quiet, even temperatures)?
- What claims or assertions do I make regarding my company (trained staff, responsive service, first class trouble shooting, honest)?
- What claims or assertions do I make regarding my character (honest, integrity, great follow-up, easy to reach)?
Next, a salesperson should ask a simple question: “Am I able to credibly illustrate my claims?” or “What proof do I employ to substantiate my claims that are themselves trustworthy?”
It’s very likely that a salesperson quickly concludes that her product, performance, and service claims sound terrific. It’s equally likely that they’re empty when tested and that asymmetry is interferring in additional sales. Making the invisible visible will improve that situation.
Make the invisible visible. Identify the areas in which one-sided claims are unsubstantiated. Supplement these gaps in order to improve information sharing, transparency between seller and buyer, trust, and mutual appreciation of products and services.