Help the Customer
Without sales, many profitable sales, your business is a hobby not a business. Whether or not you are a mom & pop stationers or a high tech computer support business, good selling skills are fundamental to your success.
The vast majority of people claim that they cannot sell or they are uncomfortable in the sales role. While we all know someone who seems to be a born salesman, that person often embodies the very behaviours that make us uncomfortable: pushy, loud, thick-skinned, with a poor sense of personal space – the proverbial second-hand car salesman. (Apologies to the second hand car industry!). The good news is that some of the best salespeople are actually quite ‘normal’, even ‘nice’ people. They are professional and hardworking, just like you!
The starting point to improving your sales ability is to change your attitude to selling. Everyone needs a product or service every day; it is the job of the salesperson to help the customer fulfil that need by making a choice that best suits them. If helping a customer is the focus of a salesperson, then many of our built-in objections to selling fall away. It’s often simply a case of putting yourself in the customer’s shoes which allows you to best be-of-service and so make a sale.
I am technologically challenged. I also have a short attention span. If the salesperson launches into a discussion of the fabulous features of a fan, I will more than likely smile politely and drift away. Newsflash! Customers really do not care if this is the latest, greatest ‘X’ with 6 new features. Customers are people and people care about ‘’what’s in it for me?” How will this help me? How will it save me time or money? How will it make me look good? How will it protect me and mine? How will it make me feel better?
A recent experience I had while buying a washing machine was a beautiful example of a salesperson who focused on me, the customer and not the product. I was in the washing machine section of the shop, looking at a washing machine… no prizes for guessing that my need was for clean clothes. Note, I did not say a washing machine. Nobody needs a washing machine, a bath tub will do, but everyone needs clean clothes. This distinction is crucial to being able to focus on the customer and not on simply flogging a product.
The salesperson, Simon, understood this and instead of only talking about the machine in front of me, he started to ask me questions:
Is your current machine broken or are you not happy with it for some reason? “Well, it’s old and giving me trouble, but I’m also concerned about its use of water and power.”
How many loads a week do you normally do? “Too many! I’ve got sporty kids. The cycle also seems to take too long.”
Simon had deftly armed himself with the useful information that while I needed clean clothes, I wanted to achieve this economically (water and power) and that time was a factor for me. He also established that I have sporty children and so my weekly load is probably high.
He then asked if he could show me another machine, pointing out that it was very green, being economic with power and water, while also having one-touch technology, which automatically adjusts the wash cycle to the load.
I was sold! Or rather, I was helped to buy the right product for me. Yes, it cost more than the model I was looking at, but I really didn’t mind. I felt heard; I felt valued and I felt safe giving him my business. Simon benefitted from a higher commission, but more importantly, guess who I will go back to when I’m next in need of an appliance? By taking the time to listen to me the person behind the wallet, he built rapport and trust; the sale was almost a by-product of him trying to assist me.
Good salespeople focus on the customer and what s/he needs and wants by using effective questioning and listening skills. Then they simply try to provide a solution (a product or service) that will best match those.
Author: Janet Askew