When it comes time to speaking with a sales representative, individuals may find themselves apprehensive to have a conversation. There is a general notion that sales representatives are pushy, trying to “sell, sell, sell” without taking into consideration the person that they’re talking to.
If approaching or approached by a prospective customer, it is important to remember that their interaction with you helps guide their decision. To make it a positive one, consider these four steps.
1. Listen first, speak second.
It is important to let the client do most of the talking. While at times you will have the length of the floor to discuss financing and product details, you’re here to listen to the client and what they want. Do not interrupt them, and wait until they completely finish their sentence. Take a moment to pause before answering, if necessary.
By interrupting customers or talking over them, you lose the client’s interest as well as introducing a tension to the conversation. They will no longer wish to deal with the conversation, prompting you to lose a potential sale (and future ones) with them. If they are particularly frustrated, they will spread the word to their counterparts, which does nothing for your business, its sales, or its reputation.
A rule of thumb is to listen 80 percent of the time and speak for 20 percent. This may fluctuate when the client asks questions that require lengthy answers, but you should aim to let the customer speak more than you.
2. Identify needs.
When speaking with the customer, ask questions that will help identify exactly what they need. When you understand what your client wants and expects from the product, you can better serve them and lead them toward the one best suited for them. When you do so, they’ll be more likely to pursue the product.
Generate a list of basic questions to ask during your conversation. These include:
- What do you want out of X?
- What is your price range?
- Why are you looking into X?
- What other avenues have you considered?
- What are your reservations about X?
You will also want to ask questions based on customer response, which will require thinking on your feet. Remember that the goal is to identify the client’s needs and best fit for them. Ask open-ended questions, ones that don’t allow for a “Yes” or “No” response, in order to best evaluate their needs.
3. Take notes.
Throughout the conversation, take notes of what the customer says or asks. This will allow you to remember exactly what was discussed, allowing you to help steer them toward the best decision. You can also help remind the client of previous points they’ve made.
Taking notes allows the conversation to continue at a later date, especially if the client is still hesitant about signing a deal or purchasing the product. This allows you to devise a plan for the next conversation. What new information can you provide based on the previous conversation? Can you send them more materials based on their questions or needs?
Your notes can also be used as reference for future conversations with other clients or as training materials. It helps to have a record of conversation to identify missteps and successes. What can be correct and how? What should be emulated?
Additionally, they can be used for employee performance tracking. Are all customers being treated equally? Are protocols being followed? Think of note taking as part of your strategy for business improvement.
4. Have an open conversation.
Though your goal is to sell, you do not want to lie to the client about capabilities or features that do not exist. This diminishes the reputation of your organization and your products/services. Though you may lose some clients because what you offer isn’t exactly what they need, you’ll gain more for your honesty.
Do not hesitate to provide your expert opinion. If a client is going in one direction, but from your conversation you’ve identified that another path would benefit them more, tell them so. Your goal as a sales representative is to help the client discover what is best for them. Guide them to other products your company offers. If there is nothing you genuinely feel works, ask them what you can do to assist them.
By going the extra mile and showing a genuine interest in their issue, you’ll be more likely to secure the client for business, if not at present, for the future.