You know what to say, you know your product – its features and benefits – and you know it’ll be of benefit to your customer, so why can’t you make that sale? Well, the public have a perception of sales people – they think you are only interested in the sale and they know that you probably get paid a bonus for every sale you make.
In short, they are sceptical of everything you say. It’s your job to change that view and one effective way to do that is to focus on your customer. To do that you can actively listen.
Actively listening is the secret of a great sales technique. It allows you to put all your focus on the customer, so you can really find out what it is they want and need. And, we don’t just mean listening to the words without really hearing them, we mean really listening and understanding them. You need to make the customer feel that you care about them personally – that you want to solve their problem. And, beware, this cannot be faked. If you try to dupe your customer into thinking that you care, they’ll notice it in your tone and body language, whether you like it or not!
Actively listening will make the customer feel special – for that moment they’ll have your full and complete attention. This will encourage them to open up to you, enabling you to tailor your pitch to their specific needs. It’ll become much more natural that any pre-prepared sales pitch you could deliver.
Do you actively listen?
A simple check to see if you actively listen is to take note of where your attention is while the customer is speaking. If you start to formulate your answer before they’ve finished speaking, you can be pretty sure you are not listening properly.
Other ways to focus on your customer
Here are some other simple things you can do to help you improve your sales technique by focussing entirely on the customer to:
Be friendly – this is pretty much a given. If you cannot be friendly towards your potential customers you really should rethink your career in sales. And, it must be genuine or they will feel it – people are usually very good at picking up insincerity!
Relax – being tense will show in your body language and tone of voice. And, if you are tense, your customer is likely to be tense too – not a good way to start any conversation.
Look the customer in the eye – I don’t know about you, but I think there’s nothing worse than having someone speak to me without making eye contact. It makes me think they’ve something to hide. However, be aware of cultural differences. In some cultures it is not acceptable to look people directly in the eye unless you know them well.
Find out something about your customer – for example do you both own a dog? Do you love a certain genre of film? Or do you both love the theatre? This common ground will give you a great base to start from and shows the customer that you are a normal person like them – not some super selling machine!
Ask how they’d like to be addressed – don’t just assume that it is okay to call the customer by their first name, some people don’t like it. However, if they are happy for you to use their first name, do so and do it often as it fosters a feeling of ease.
Discover what motivated them to find out about your product – this information is like gold to you. It tells you why the customer wants your product and allows you to tailor your conversation to that particular area. For example, imagine you are selling vacuum cleaners that are good for picking up dog hairs, eliminating dust mites and removing ground-in dirt from your carpets. If you find out that the customer has a dog, you can focus on the removal of dirt and hairs as a main benefit. If you find out the customer suffers with asthma, it would be pointless to focus on picking up dog hairs, but effective dust mite removal would be a great selling point. So, make sure you ask questions about the customers’ life and habits so that you can show them how your product or service will make theirs simpler.