The sticky truth about what customers wantWritten by Tom Richard | | email@example.com
Finding myself on a rare trip to the grocery store with my sister, I began to compare several bottles of pancake syrup. Flipping each bottle over, I quickly went through a mini-sorting process, taking into account the sugar, calories and cost of each option.
Watching me, my sister, who is an organic registered dietician, was quick to point out that none of the bottles I was considering actually had any maple syrup in them. Like a confused dog, I cocked my head to the side.
“It’s a bottle of syrup,” I said. “What do you mean there is no maple syrup in there?”
She explained that my pancake condiment was, in fact, completely synthetic. There was not a single drop of maple sap anywhere in those bottles. I felt as dumb as a doorknob and as betrayed as a boy who just discovered there is no Santa Claus. All these years I had been pouring lies all over my pancakes and enjoying every sweet and deceitful bite.
For all these years, I had been choosing my maple syrup on details which, when compared to the very basics of the product, were insignificant. Shame on me for not even considering checking something many others already know: There is a huge difference between maple syrup and pancake syrup. I had incorrectly assumed that everything I was looking at was comparable.
When I approached the syrup shelf, I was focused on minute details such as calories, sugar content and price, and had lost the bigger picture. Whether you realize it, your customers approach your products the same way. They come to you with equally detailed questions, and you, being the eager-to-please salesperson you are, quickly answer each one with military precision. While it is great that you are able to answer their questions honestly and satisfactorily, you may be leading the customer further away from the important elements of their buying decision.
Although the customer means well, their innocent questions may lead them into a sticky mess of insignificant details. They may not know the right questions to ask to get what they want or know enough about your product to know what to ask. By helping the customer refocus on what is really important, you will both be able to wash your hands of the sap and get back to what really matters to the customer.
Get back to the basics and lay a strong foundation by having the customer tell you, in their own words, what they are looking to see, experience, solve or accomplish. Avoid the temptation to tell them all about your product or let them lead the conversation with their well-intentioned, but usually misguided, questions.
If you are selling uniforms, skip the details and start with why the company wears uniforms in the first place. If you sell kitchen décor, pause the price talk and ask for a description of their dream kitchen. If you sell fitness equipment, drop the techno-babble and ask what the goal of their purchase is. Eventually you will cover the details, but you will have the strong foundation to know your customer, their needs and which details to cover.
Unfortunately, some competitors choose to emphasize the itty-bitty details because they know that their product is not the real thing. By keeping the customer distracted with insignificant details like price and product specifications, they don’t have to face the fact that their company or product can’t provide what really matters.
As a company of quality and integrity, it is your right and responsibility to offer your customers a simplified buying experience that promotes true understanding. Being able to refocus on basics will separate you from, as opposed to compare you with, the competition. It will give your customers the comfortable clarity of knowing their real options and making the right decision.
Tom Richard is a Toledo-based sales trainer, gives seminars, runs sales meetings and provides coaching for salespeople. For more information, visit www.TomRichard.com, call
(419) 441-1005 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.