There are many factors that contribute to being a successful salesperson. Understanding what customers expect can make a large contribution to sales success. It also helps to provide a vital direction as to how a meeting should be approached.
Getting started is difficult for many salespeople. They are quite competent in many ways – selling benefits, closing etc – once they get going. The problem is to get into the presentation without the prospect terminating the interview early or simply switching off.
How do you do that? Customers and prospects that were asked have given these answers:
Show a respect for time
In addition to arriving on time for your appointments, it is important to demonstrate that you have respect for their time.
A phrase such as “thank you for sparing the time to see me today” is a good way to start, which can be expanded upon to say “because I appreciate that you are probably very busy” shows that you have empathy for their situation and are, therefore, less likely to waste their time. It will also help to put them at ease. Minimise unnecessary time taken by talking about the weather and other irrelevant factors.
Your prospect is a busy person and so are you. Giving the indication that you are busy is also beneficial, as the saying goes “business people want to deal with busy people.”
Do not make exaggerated, unsupported claims for the things that you can do. Be sincere and honest and demonstrate the truth of any claims you make.
This builds vital trust, which is essential in any business dealing. It can often be useful to ask during a meeting, ‘what would reassure the customer that you can deliver what you have claimed?’ This builds a dialogue as to what proof he would like to see and helps to progress the sales process.
Show that you know what you are doing and saying, that you have organised yourself and that you are prepared for the meeting.
Also make sure that you have everything that you require at hand.
Concern for the customer
Look at everything from your customer’s point of view. Show that you are genuinely concerned to help him and not simply concerned with making a sale. The consultative sales process is very supportive to this principle in that you are consulting with them to identify their needs, and whether you are able to help them.
Find out information about the customer before the visit. Use this knowledge to show you understand his situation and to gain his attention. This also helps to provide credibility to any claims that you will make during the meeting.
Potential customers want to deal with someone who is experienced. Therefore, during the meeting show either yours or your company’s experience. A good way to do this is by discussing other projects and customers that you have been working on. These references are especially useful if they have similarities with the customer’s situation.
It is important to ask relevant questions that are pertinent to the customer’s business. Asking irrelevant questions can create frustration from the customer’s point of view.
From the prior research and your experience, you will no doubt have an idea of the possible areas that you need to explore with the customer. Also react to the customer’s answers. It maybe that a particular area is of no concern to their business, if so move on to another point. It is equally important that this part of the meeting does not become an interrogation. Encourage the customer to be expansive with his answers by asking open questions. It is also beneficial to justify the reasons for asking questions such as “in order to identify whether it is possible for us to save you money, I would like to ask you some questions regarding your current usage.”
Even if you have an appointment and are expected, it is wrong to assume that the prospect is giving you his full attention. His mind is likely to be on other things. You must obtain his undivided attention. Until you have it there is no point in talking about your solution.
The first thing to do is to ‘sell’ the idea that he should spend time with you.