6 Tips to Help Your Salespeople Consult with Risk-Averse Buyers

Risk Averse Buyer

Risk-averse buyers present a unique challenge for your salespeople, especially in a complex sale where there’s a large financial investment at stake. When a bad purchasing decision risks large portions of budget as well as the reputations of decision makers, status quo is often your sellers’ biggest competitor.

Help your salespeople overcome risk aversion and shorten the sales cycle by coaching them with these 6 tips.

Tip #1 - Recognize Risk-Aversion Early in the Process

Risk-averse buyers will usually reveal themselves, as long as your salespeople know what to look for. Here are three ways to tell a buyer is avoiding risk:

  1. They have “S” or “C” Behavior Styles. Every buyer has a communication and behavior style that feels most natural to them, which can be understood using the DISC assessment. “S” (Steadiness) styles and “C” (Compliance) styles tend to be naturally more averse to risk. Learn more about these styles and how to recognize them here.
  2. They are hyper-focused on price. Most buyers weigh cost to some extent, but a risk-averse buyer will often focus more on price and less on features, benefits, and how the solution will solve their problem.
  3. They ask a lot of questions about potential negative impacts. A risk-averse buyer will often vocalize their worries about how the solution will negatively impact their current technology ecosystem, processes, operations, or team.

Tip #2 - Ask Courageous Questions

While some risk-averse buyers reveal themselves easily, others are more difficult to spot. Train sales reps to ask courageous questions that bring buyer fears to the surface. Discussing potential risks openly helps apprehensive buyers feel more comfortable. 

Teach salespeople to consult with the buyer about:

  • How the solution could potentially affect their organization, processes, and/or technology
  • How it might impact them personally
  • Any fears or apprehensions they are experiencing

Tip #3 - Identify the Root of The Buyer’s Fear

Beyond a surface discussion of risk, teach salespeople to identify the root of a buyer’s fear. Those roots might be:

  • Fear of change
  • Fear of making a mistake
  • Fear of looking incompetent  
  • Fear of losing their job

Emotional drivers like these tend to be much higher influencers than price or benefits. Salespeople who can consult with the buyer and discover the deep emotional roots of risk-aversion can then position themselves to address those fears and help the buyer feel safe to make the purchase.

Tip #4 - Offset Fears with Corresponding Benefits

Understanding a buyer’s fears and apprehensions allows a salesperson to tailor their presentation to highlight the benefits that alleviate those fears.

For example, a buyer who’s considering IMPACT sales training may be concerned with their reputation if they change established processes within their organization.

In this case, the following benefits of IMPACT Selling can be highlighted:  

Flexibility – Our sales training is designed to be flexible and incorporate into your existing processes and procedures

Try Before You Buy – You have the ability to audit a sales training program before committing to the training for your team

Customizable – Our sales training can be customized to your specific needs, challenges, and selling environment

Tip #5 - Identify Emotional Drivers Toward Change

The risk-averse buyer will be strongly resistant to change and focused on drivers away from it. To help reorient the buyer to look forward to the change and the benefits it will bring about, teach salespeople to identify each buyer’s emotional drivers in that direction.

For instance, do they dislike being called out to fix problems on the weekend, and can your solution fix that? Do they feel like they’re constantly putting out fires when they want to be making progress? Do they love the idea of established systems and processes but feel like they’re operating in chaos?

Your reps should uncover these emotional drivers to target messages and conversations on how your solution will address them.

Tip #6 - Speak Their Language

Your salespeople should be skilled at quickly identifying a buyer’s behavior style and adapting their communication to make the buyer feel at ease.

The Selling to Different Personality Types training program teaches participants the four DISC personality types—Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance—and how they play out in a business setting.

This information allows salespeople to adapt their style to address risk in the buyer’s preferred language. For instance:

  • A Compliance personality will appreciate data, research, and detailed analysis
  • A Steadiness personality will appreciate clear information on how processes and implementation will impact their team and their organizational functioning
  • An Influence personality will appreciate brief, happy case studies and success stories
  • A Dominance personality will appreciate straight-forward, bulleted information about your track record and a matter-of-fact approach to problem-solving


Coach your salespeople with these 6 tips and enable them to turn risk-averse prospects into profitable, long-term customers.

With the right consultative selling approach and ability to adapt to communication preferences your team can be successful even in high-stakes selling situations.



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Mary Plummer

Mary Plummer is a Business Partner for The Brooks Group. In her role she is responsible for developing strong, mutually beneficial relationships with clients, helping them to effect long-term cultural change inside their sales organizations.

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