Apr 132010
 

This is the third post in a series of six articles

Why you will be the next person your customer seeks to solve their problem

You may think that making more sales in your business is too challenging, but if you try, actually your prospective customers will thank you for offering the solution they’ve been seeking. And if you just introduce yourself with their needs in mind, then you’re well on your way and you’ll get better sales results.

Find Things in Common

First, you find something in common, making sure that you’ve made a connection. Often I hear people use closed ended questions in the beginning of the conversation. You know, the yes-no type. This is a generally big mistake. Remember the poem from Rudyard Kipling? I KEEP six honest serving men who to taught me all I knew. Their names are What and Why and When, And How and Where and Who. Then you begin to discover your customer’s situation, with some context to build from. Save the yes-no questions for decision time, a very short interval at the end of your conversation.

Have You Tried Paraphrasing?

I’ve used paraphrasing in conversations, where I listen intently to the customer, re-phrase what they are saying with words that will reveal buried meanings and feelings submerged under their statement. This approach works great, and should be studied carefully. These concealed meanings and feelings need to be clear.

Here’s an example . . . when I’m discussing the ImHonest.com product that helps people recover lost valuable gadgets, I sometimes hear a prospective customer say that they never lose anything. Many times I can spur the conversation along a direction pleasing to my goal, by first, acknowledging what I just heard. Yes its admirable that you are careful with your belongings. Can I ask you this, “How do you manage to not lose valuable items.” “I tell you, it’s a habit that I learned from my mother. I just wish that my teenage kids would be better at keeping track of their iPods and cell phones. They rely on me too much.” Here’s the paraphrase that the superstar sales person might use: “It seems to me that if you could help them to recover their lost items, that it would relieve you of a certain burden of replacing it. Am I right?” You’re seeking a deeper level of understanding. The person I credit with learning this approach is Lee Boyan, writer of Successful Cold Call Selling. With their answer of Yes, now I have it going a way that helps both of us. This is just one example of the kind of seeds you want to plant that take root in the form of impressions and memories of events or attachments. Commit to learning it and give it a try.

Get Agreement on the Minor Things, then the Major Things Take Care of Themselves

Make sure you have agreement, and that you’ve empathized properly with their situation. The conversation is lively at this point, because you’re talking about what’s important to them. Next, summarize the benefits and ask more confirmation questions. Here’s a way I do this with the customer, “Yeah, so you’ve told me that it’d be a lot easier to receive a notice later in the same day from ImHonest that someone found your son’s missing iPod and it’ll be shipped to your home via UPS in three days.” These are mini yeses, which seek agreement. It’s kind of like testing the temperature of the water in the hot tub with your foot before sinking your whole body. If you have a complex product or service, it’s a good idea to seek several confirmations on different aspects of your solution. You know, follow up appointment, payment method, delivery date, implementation plan. When you take the time to learn this approach and execute it, you’ll notice that reaching the final agreement, when they say YES to your offer, will be a natural and pleasant conversation rather than a contrived, ill timed, awkward presentation.

It’s time to take off the chill and embrace the thrill of selling. Let me know how you find this working for you.