Sell to the customer’s value expectations, not to your value propositions.
We’ve all heard the rule of listening to what the customer has to say, and there’s not a salesperson who thinks they don’t listen to the customer. Reality, however, is quite the opposite. I find time after time when I’m working with salespeople across any number of industries that the failure to listen is a huge issue.
Too many salespeople believe because they know what they’re selling that for some reason they then know what the customer will see as value. Yes, the salesperson is going to have a general indication of what a typical customer wants. However, when it comes to interacting with a specific customer, the salesperson can’t rely on a “general indication” of value.
The only way you as a salesperson are going to know what a customer will place value in is by asking them and getting them to tell you what they’re looking for. Sounds simple enough, and yet so many salespeople don’t do it.
If you don’t believe what I am saying, then let me share about the situation my wife found herself in while buying a car. The car she was looking at was an SUV with all the amenities of what people expect when looking for an SUV (4-wheel drive, ability to handle rugged winter driving, etc). The salesperson continued to press my wife on the value of these features of the SUV. The problem was that my wife wasn’t particularly interested in those features. Yes, we wanted an SUV, but my wife — the primary driver of the vehicle — was looking for an amazing sound system and heated, comfortable seats.
I can’t tell you the number of salespeople who lost the sale because they failed to understand what my wife’s value expectations were with regard to the car. We could easily have been sold on an SUV other than the one we bought, had the salesperson listened and put aside their pre-conceived notions of what a “typical buyer” of an SUV might be most interested in.
I share this example so that you can see that it’s not just about “understanding” this dynamic; it’s about learning from it and changing how you interact with customers. The learning is simple: Listen to what the customer is saying. They will tell you what their needs are when you ask them the right questions. This means not only do you need to ask the right questions, but you also need to hear what the customer is telling you and then ask them a follow-up question on what they just told you. Asking the follow-up question is key, because the vast majority of time, the customer will share with you much better insights when you show interest and involvement in what they’re telling you.
Once a person feels the other person is truly listening, it’s only natural for the quality of the conversation to become more real and engaging. By asking the follow-up questions, the salesperson will learn what the customer’s value expectations are. The salesperson can then finally work to close the sale to the customer’s expectations. When that happens, they will do more than just close the sale. There is a significant likelihood the sale will be closed at a higher profit, because the customer sees more value in what they’re buying.
Copyright 2010, Mark Hunter, “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog.