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Help customers identify needs

CUSTOMERS don’t always know exactly how a product can help them. That is, they may have needs that they haven’t identified yet – unknown needs. A key part of the salesperson’s job is to help a customer identify their needs related to their current and future circumstances. This is not ‘hard sell’; we are talking about what they need, not what they want. One way to do this is by asking the customer scenario questions, which cause them to think about a situation they may not have thought about. “How would you pay your mortgage if you were to lose your job?”, for example. Sales tips • Treat the customer as an individual. How would you like to be treated? Remember, they may be your 50th customer for the day, but you may be their first salesperson for the day. Offer suggestions and better alternatives. • Empathise with the customer’s objections. Don’t argue – agree with them. “Yes. Look, if I were in your shoes, I’d probably see it the same way. Let me explain…” • See ‘selling’ as something everybody does – it’s a way of helping a customer in need. If you don’t help them identify a genuine need now, it may cost them later. • Don’t force the sale – no need, no sale. • Avoid jargon and ‘organisation speak’. It doesn’t sound like jargon to us because we use it all the time, but to the customer it can be very confusing. A confused customer is not a buying customer. • Introduce yourself by name. • Ask, yourself: “what can I say that will make them feel good as they walk out the door?” • Keep your promises – don’t promise what can’t be delivered. Don’t raise expectations that can’t be met. • Use the customer’s name if you know it. If appropriate ask, “May I call you Mrs Martin, or Harry, or whatever?” • Reinforce facts about the features, advantages and benefits of our products and services. • Objections are based on the customer’s perception, but not all their perceptions are based on facts, and often they do not know all the facts about the product and service. • Allocate time to do after sales follow-up activities. • If you can see a customer is very attracted to a product, confirm it in their mind by saying to them, “You like it don’t you?” • If the sale is stalling, ask: “What would you like us to do?” Keep product information handy. • Tell them to contact you personally when they want to go ahead or if they have a query. • At the conclusion of a sale, thank the customer for their business. • Ask questions which lead to them agreeing their needs – don’t just make statements about the product or service. • Always show how your features and benefits match their needs. • Remember that you are the product expert. You will probably know more about what the product can do for them then they will. • Experiment with different ways of asking questions and with different ways of asking for the business. And always ask for the business. By Daniel Kehoe.

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