All too often sales staff wonder why people wont move forward in the sales process. There are a variety of reasons, but ultimately people by from people they like. Rapport building is essential to the sales process. Often sales people are quick to sell their product without effectively taking care of the prospect's needs.
Imagine this scenaria, I am looking to buy a new car and I have the opportunity to work with a customer service specialist or a sales representative. I imagine your first inclination would be to choose the customer service specialist. Why do you think this is? Very simply, because our typical impression of sales staff is that they are pushy, always talking, and only care about selling their product. We believe the customer service specialist wont push us into buying, so we feel more at ease. That is the value of having a customer support person selling.
Perception is reality, no one likes to deal with a salesperson if they don't have to. Our immediate impression is that the customer support specialist will listen to our concerns and suggest some possible solutions. So what can we do as sales staff to change this paradigm:
Learn 3 new things about every prospect or customer you meet. Utilize this information to send a card, hand addressed note, or relevant news article. Let them know that you were listening and that you'd like to earn their business.
Ask GREAT questions. Using the words, how and why will open up a world of opportunities. When you stumble upon people that don't open up, use phrases like tell me more, why, and what else. Also, don't be afraid to ask a good question and shut up, silence can be a huge motivator to getting people to share more valuable information.
Before meeting with a new prospect, do your homework. Research their company,print out information from their website and take it with you. It shows that you care and that you have a good understanding of what is going on in their business.
LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN. Listening shows that you respect the customer enough to learn what they need before talking about what you are selling. If you aren't listening, there is no way you can accurately provide a good product or solution that will fit their needs.
Be honest. If your product isn't a fit, be honest about it and don't be afraid to suggest others who might be a better match for their needs. The prospect will appreciate your honesty and may even provide you with leads at some point in the future.
Learning from our customer service counterparts the essentials of taking good care of a customer will eventually lead to repeat business. Helping repeat customers is much easier than having to go out and find new clients and is much less expensive. Treating customers well and really tuning in to their needs and how we might be able to solve them is the key to moving the sales process forward.
About the Author:
Tim Hagen is President of Sales Progress LLC, a sales consulting and performance management firm.