Understand your customer, period.
Being an engineer from Finland is a very challenging starting point to become an excellent sales person. We tend to be solution orientated. If there is a problem, we start immediately to develop a fantastic and state of the art product or service to fix it.
“That solves the problem” proud engineer says, if he or she dares to face the customer.
Another possible behavioral problem is that if you happen to have hammer in your tool box all problems start to look like nails. Both previous behaviors are not just a risk for failing in the sales phase but also a risk to ruin the customer relations.
So understand the customer, truly understand!
There is a reason why great sales people have only one mouth and two ears – they listen. The weapon for succeeding in sales and to understand your customer is to find the implied needs making your customers life difficult or non-profitable.
“I have heard that you have a problem A and I happen have this fantastic product Mr. Customer which solves your problem” says the average sales person with confident voice.
Pitfall! Did you really understand the customer’s needs or was there just another nail to pound with your hammer?
Instead of offering products and services continue from the first implied needs to seek for other needs effecting the big picture. Dig deeper, ask questions which make the customer to reveal more implied needs, and listen! Find the root causes and then start to work towards the explicit needs.
“So Mr. Customer you have stated problems X and Y in your business. Am I correct that these problems also tend to make problem Z for your business?”
Sit back and listen. Your customer sees that you understand his situation and he is willing to open and reveal more in order to get your help.
Now starts the magic. Value creation through Need-Pay Off questions. Turn your customer’s small needs into BIG NEEDS. Ask questions that makes the customer understand the true nature of the needs.
“So Mr. Customer, you have stated problems A, B and C in your business. How valuable would it be for you if we would be able the remove problem A totally and decrease the problem B and C with 50%?”
You have used persuasive selling to show that you understand your customer’s business and you have made the customer to understand the value of your services.
As a last step you need to build your Customer Specific Value Proposition. Do not offer feature or advantage of your products and services, but offer benefit to your customer. Work around those needs you have discovered into value proposition that truly solves your customer’s problem.
“Mr. Customer, considering your three most important needs we can offer you solution C which we know will have a positive impact of X% and yearly savings of Y €.”
First sentence from the sales person without question mark and the deal is about to be signed already!
Sales is challenging and fun. Reality is far from the text book example but remember to truly listen in your next sales meeting!