Seek First to Understand, Then Be Understood
This exact quote comes from Steven Covey in his landmark book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. His writings contain countless insights to creating, improving and maintaining effective relationships of all kinds, including with family and close friends of course, but also with anyone we may come in contact with. Given that the principles behind the TRUST® selling process include the intention of creating a customer relationship for life, I’ve found find this particular instruction very useful.
As you know, my approach to training is to share the most effective selling practices that I have observed on countless sales calls with owners, technicians and sales people. I could train you how I would do something, but that would only be effective for someone else who was just like me. I concluded long ago that providing a variety of great sales tools and strategies, delivered in a positive, reinforcing learning environment, will produce the best skill building result. With this approach, everyone has the opportunity to take from the training what will be most effective for themselves.
That said, some things are common among those who are consistently the best at any kind of selling. One is their sincere interest in helping others. The primary selling skill that demonstrates this to the customer is knowing how and when to ask appropriate questions. Once asked, the question is followed up with good active listening skills. This assures the customer that you are truly interested in what she is saying, thinking and feeling. There are some, I think deluded, sales persons who will seem to behave this way on the surface but their true intent is to use any information to “box” the customer into what they want to sell. This sort of behavior, with true intention to manipulate the customer, can be effective in the short term; however, as Covey points out, a relationship that begins with this sort of insincerity is doomed to ultimate failure.
So, begin your sales call with excitement and enthusiasm at the prospect of creating a customer-relationship-for-life that will benefit everyone. Explain that you’d like to ask questions and take notes about their needs and wants so that you can make sure they get all the information they deserve and should have to make a proper decision. Once they see and feel that they can trust you, you will find your customers relaxing with confidence, knowing they have found someone they can trust. Then, when you share your proposal choices with them, they will certainly find what they want…and likely buy it from you.
Seek first to sincerely understand the customers’ needs and wants…and then offer to explain your appropriate solutions.
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