The phrase, “Put yourself into the mind of your customer.” has been beaten into every salesperson’s brain more times than they can probably count. Not to say that this isn’t how one should be approaching sales, but the concept of really “learning” your customer definitely leaves more to be explored than just an 8-word mantra. What info do you actually need to get into your customer’s mind? How do successful salespeople reverse-engineer their approaches in order to think like their customers? What questions do they ask?
- What Are Their Problems? – It’s easier for you to guess what your customer’s want, but the truth is you should really be asking these sort of probing questions every time you engage customers (even if it’s for a follow-up). Ask your customer what causes their problems, how often they occur, and other solutions that they may have considered. Ask how the problem affects their business, employees, tangible assets, etc.
- How Does Your Product/Service Solve Them? – The great thing about understanding their main problems is that not only does it help you understand your customer’s mindset, but during this probing process is where you’ll get your customers to further realize that they DO need a solution, which sets you up perfectly to put on your Super Salesperson cape and come to the rescue.
- What Are The Risks? – The invention of the internet and the ease at which customers can now make more knowledgeable decisions before even speaking to a salesperson or entering a store has changed the ways that salespeople operate. Customers can now view online reviews, demonstrations, and create forums to discuss products with others before considering purchases. To get a better understanding of your customer’s perceived risks, create a list of all the things that may be perceived as potential “risks” for your customers such as high prices, no refund, known defects/recalls, quality inquiries, cross-compatibility, etc. Also, create a list of the most common questions that you hear from potential customers-try to think of the kind of details and assurances you’d want to hear about if the shoe were on the other foot. Next, craft answers and follow ups to these questions.
- How Are Risks Mitigated? – Use the list you created in the previous bullet to create answers to mitigate all “risks” questions. Also, don’t look at risks as a bad thing, as every product will have some level of risks associated with its purchase. Customer’s asks question to gauge the level of that risk (as consumers, this is our way of avoiding that dreadful post-purchase dissonance). NEVER avoid or seem leery about answering these types questions, as this will definitely be seen as a red flag by your customer. Always seem ready and more than willing to answer ANY question that they pose. We call it the old “Salesman 1,2, 3”:
1. Acknowledge their concerns.
2. Go over your response to their question.
3. Ask another follow-up question to do more probing.
If they throw you with a curve ball that you haven’t created a response for, simply acknowledge it, answer it as best as you can, and then follow it up of course with another question that ties back to their problem. Remember, no one wants to be “SOLD”, we want to “BUY”-let your customers sell themselves!
- How Does Your Price Compare To The Competition? – Price comparisons are going to be your most common point of contention as salesperson-we all want to save every penny, right? Companies that fall on the high end of the price spectrum when compared to competitors are able to do so by placing quality at the forefront of their brand positioning. The funny thing is that sometimes even when customers believe that your products’ quality and prices are equal they’ll still haggle to get the best deal!
Research your 5 main competitors and make a list of their offerings in comparison to yours (include: products, price, value, ancillary services, etc.). Take note of what stands out with each company, is it price, better reviews, more locations, what? This will help to give you the objectivity needed to view your offerings as your customer views them-so to say, “what’s in it for me”?
If you find that your price falls in line with other competitors, try to point out your differentiating factors from them such as service quality, guarantees, ancillary services, availability, etc. If it’s on the higher end don’t be shy when explaining why your prices are worth EVERY dollar. However, never use the “we’re better than them because xyx…” approach when comparing yourself to competitors, but focus more on the customer’s needs and aligning those with your offerings.
Lastly, be sure to have a solid lead life-cycle in place for all potential customers, with metrics in place for you to gauge what’s working. This way you can use your time most effectively, instead of wasting time on leads that are going nowhere and focus on those with the most potential.