The challenge is the same for every salesperson who gets an order.
What it takes is capturing the customer’s imagination. The competition isn’t another brand, or a better life insurance policy or annuity. The competition is another salesperson, one who knows how to hook customers.
The primary task for every salesperson is getting customers to want to do business with them.
(Related: 7 Proven Ways to Kill Your Next Sale)
Without that, customers move on, looking for someone, as they say, “Some who makes us feel comfortable.” This applies to everything from selling paint to political ideas. Here’s what it takes to do it:
1. Stash your sales pitch. Of course, it’s important to have your sales pitch down pat, but put it aside when you’re with customers. It will only get it your way and be a barrier between you and your customers, causing you to talk more and listen less. Relying on it may boost your confidence, but customers don’t want to hear it.
2. Don’t assume customers know what they want. Don’t be fooled, most customers don’t know what they want, even though they say they do. They feel good—empowered—when a salesperson helps them discover new possibilities, what they didn’t discover when “googling.” This gets them to see you as a resource for good ideas and helpful suggestions.
3. Figure out what’s most important. Salespeople often act as if customers can hardly wait to hear what they have to say. It may not be intentional, but that’s how they come across. In other words, they don’t stop talking. Here’s the problem: How can a salesperson find out what’s important to customers if they’re doing the talking?
Nigel Green of Relode.com says that the best salespeople ask more questions than those who are average performers. In his experience, they ask twice as many questions as they make statements or assertions. This is how they find out what’s important to the customer, including Millennials.
4. Expand customer horizons. A business owner wanted to find a larger location to expand his business. He found a building that would work, one where everything was right—size, layout and location—everything, except the price. “It’s a great place,” he told his banker, “but there’s no way we can afford it.” After reviewing the information, the banker called and said, “Oh yes you can. I’ll show you.”
5. Keep it transparent. Customers know that nothing is perfect. Trying to hide or whitewash something is futile; they’ll figure it out. So, to get their attention and confidence, point out both the pros and the cons of what you’re selling, as well as that of the competition. Be objective and fair. Build the case for what you’re selling, but don’t overplay your hand. Transparency creates trust.
6. Add to their knowledge. Not long after opening his art gallery on Newbury Street in 1976, Thomas Segal became “a significant force in Boston’s art world,” wrote The Boston Globe at the time of his death. “Year after year he introduced local collectors to art they might not otherwise have seen.”