By Kirt Manecke
One of the most valuable lessons you can learn from this book is to LISTEN to your customers. Ask probing questions—then listen attentively to your customer’s answers.
Listening builds trust. If your customer feels you care and aren’t just trying to sell them something, they’ll be more open to your buying suggestions later on. Listening makes you more credible in the eyes of your customer.
To be certain you can retain the important information your customer is giving you, feel free to take notes as they’re speaking. And to be sure you’ve heard them properly, acknowledge or repeat back to them what they’ve said and ask them to confirm:
“If I understand you correctly,you’re telling me that your wife wants a lighter-weight chainsaw because her current chainsaw is too heavy, that she wants to cut branches with it, and that she doesn’t like mixing gas and oil. Is that correct?”
Then, be a problem solver. Listening will help you understand your customer’s problem—the next step is to show how your product or service can help them solve it. Always provide a solution to your customer’s problem, emphasizing what matters most to them:
“We have a great product that’s lighter weight, works great on branches, and doesn’t require any mixing of fuel. It also offers a 30-day warranty, so you can try it out with no risk involved.”
Biggest Sales Mistake
All too often, salespeople make the mistake of not listening to their customers. Without asking any qualifying questions or giving the customer a chance to speak, many immediately launch into a boring, irrelevant product presentation.
They “product dump”—telling the customer everything there is to know about their product or service, regardless of whether the customer cares about what it is they’re describing.
Not only is this unhelpful, but it can turn the customer off. As Katya Andresen notes in “Robin Hood Marketing,” “People don’t need to know everything; they simply want to know what is immediately relevant to them.”
Tip: You can show you’re listening by making good eye contact and nodding your head periodically while your customer is talking.
Know the features and benefits of your product or service.Learn everything you can about it, and know your business, industry, and customers, as well. This includes knowing business hours, pricing, and procedures by heart.
Regularly review relevant trade journals, brochures, manuals, newsletters, Websites, and social media sites to keep yourself up to speed on your product or service. Be aware of any significant awards it has won. Have positive quotes from the media and testimonials from past or current customers ready to share.
While you’ll learn a lot from research and from satisfied customers, ultimately the best way to know your product or service is to use it yourself if possible.Your own experience will be a powerful testimonial to your customers and give you an insider’s edge in promoting the product and answering questions.
Finally, don’t just get to know your own products and services—study your competitors’, as well. Know the strengths and weaknesses of your competition and how its products or services stack up against your own.
Keep It Positive
Never present your competition in a negative light, even though you may have the information to do so.Saying something negative about a competing business, product, or service often is viewed as unprofessional by customers. Instead, simply lay out the information for your customer and let them decide.
If your customer tells you they like your service, but are leaning toward buying your competitor’s, politely explain the differences between the two and the advantages of your own—withoutever saying anything negative about your competitor’s product, service, or place of business.
What It Looks Like
“I’m sure the business down the street is a fair place to do business. The advantage of our product is that it gives you six options for your insurance policy, so you’ll be able to customize it to your liking. Like I said, the product our competitors provide is good, but it only offers two options. And, you know, it’s good to have choices when it comes to insurance.”
“Our service offers an additional year of warranty—which adds up to more security and peace of mind.”
“Our staff can have everything ready for you within 30 minutes of your purchase—I know our competitors ask you to come back the next day to sign the final paperwork.”
Remember: Knowing your product or service inside and out will make you the expert and give you the confidence you need to help your customer choose what’s right for them.
Have you ever done business with people who lack enthusiasm and seem uninterested, unexcited, or just plain dull? If you have, you know the difference enthusiasm makes. When you deal with an enthusiastic salesperson or representative, the sales process is fun and engaging. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and you feel like you’ve made a lifelong friend.
Be the person you’d want to be dealing with if you were in your customer’s shoes.Your enthusiasm, positive attitude,and interest in helping your customers will leave them delighted and help you sell more. And that’s not all—approaching your job, and your life, with enthusiasm will bring energy, fun, and satisfaction for you, as well!
Excerpt from “Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service,” by Kirt Manecke, Copyright © 2013.
Kirt Manecke is the founder and former owner of a specialty retail business in Michigan. Manecke is the author of “Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service.” The book is a crash course in customer service and sales to help businesses quickly and easily train staff. You can read it in 60 minutes or less. For more information, visit www.SmiletheBook.com.