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As a sales professional, it can be an eye-opening experience when you go shopping for yourself. Weaknesses in other’s presentations can teach us lessons about how to strengthen our own. One common theme you might notice is that many people don’t seem to recognize that people don’t buy products or services. People buy from people.
People buy solutions to perceived or real problems. Good sales people assist buyers in solving their problems through emotions, visual imagery, and proper logic and people skills. The one component of sales that makes everything come together is people skills. You may be great at product knowledge, presentation, demonstrations or closing skills, but none of those things will matter if you don’t create a relationship with your customer.
A catalyst is an agent of change. There’s not a better way to describe sales people. When your customer begins to shop, they are beginning a process of change. If you are the sales person who makes the sale, it will usually be because you were better at assisting the customer to make that change. Let’s look at some ways to make those changes happen in a positive way that allows your customer to buy. Take notice of the phrase “allows your customer to buy,” rather than “you selling the customer.”
Imagine, for example, going to shop for a hot tub. You go to a nationally known store that has obviously conducted sales training for their sales representatives. The sales person has a very specific sales presentation. He also has considerable knowledge about his product and the competing products. The sales person is enthusiastic and energetic. In other words, he has a lot of good things going for him.
However, the sales person has a fatal flaw in his approach that probably costs him lots of business. The sales person tries very hard to be a sales person but he misses being just a person by a mile. What’s the difference?
The sales person begins to immediately show you the hot tubs and begins his process without taking the time to ask any questions and build a rapport that creates trust. When someone starts off a sales process in this manner, they are beginning what could be called the “Spray and Pray Method of Selling.” They spray out a presentation and pray that the customer gets excited about something in their verbal barrage about the product. They have no idea what that something might be.
This method lacks specifics, empathy, warmth, personalization, communication and listening skills, just to name a few problems. Imagine a different approach. A sales approach where the salesperson would have asked the some of the following questions:
• “Who will be primarily using the hot tub?”
• “How many people will usually use it at a time?”
• “Will it be used for recreational purposes, therapeutic or both?”
• “Will kids be using the hot tub?”
• “Do you currently have or have you had a hot tub in the past?”
• ”If so, what did you like and dislike?”
• “Where will the hot tub be located?”
• “What kind of foundation will it be on?”
• “Will the area that the hot tub will be located at be enclosed or open?”
• “What is the most important thing to you about a hot tub?”
• “How long have you been shopping for a hot tub?”
• “During this shopping process, what has been the No. 1 thing about a hot tub or any features that has excited you the most?”
• “During your shopping process, has there been anything you may have wanted that you have not seen or anything in particular that has disappointed you?”
You can think of a ton of questions that would allow specific answers and enable the customer to experience the change they are looking for. You can use the keywords and answers the customer supplies you to laser in on what they want to accomplish, using specific examples that involve active and present-tense ownership imagery.
When you are doing these things, you are relating to your customer in an empathic and personal way that separates you from all the other sales people. Never forget that you were a person before you became a sales person, and that people buy from people.