Master The Mindset Of Customer Orientation
A good number of my clients and readers are emerging sales professionals. One of the biggest mistakes new salespeople make is to adopt a “push” mindset, which drives them to think first of presenting what they have to offer. A seasoned sales pro, though, knows the best approach starts with a customer-oriented mindset that leads more toward getting t o know the customer (and her needs) through artful questioning.
Start by embracing the fact that what you have to offer does not solve all problems for all customers. It simply isn’t for everyone. You know your solution will be ideal for a good number of customers’ problems, so your main mission is not to push your solution to everyone and let them figure out how to apply it, but to find customers for whom your solution can truly make life better. Stop selling to people, and start sorting through the people you meet (courteously) to find the customers you’re looking for.
How do you know? The best way is to ask good questions. Ask your customer what his goals are, what ideas he’s tried, and generally what his circumstances are. Get him to describe his problem in detail. And don’t just “download” the customer by firing rapid questions at him; listen carefully to each reply he gives, and then make sure you give some response yourself so your customer knows you’ve heard him and so the conversation can move forward.
When the time is right, gradually roll out the features and benefits of your solution. As you do this, watch carefully for the customer’s reactions. The best salespeople will confront objections head-on, and right away, saying things like “I see you didn’t care for that suggestion” or “I hear some skepticism in your voice.” Remember, this is a nice person with whom you’re conversing, but she may or may NOT be a valid customer for your solution… don’t try to force a solution.
Sales resistance, which is present in every customer to some extent, scares away most novice salespeople but is actually nothing to be worried about. If, through a healthy exchange with your prospect, you become convinced you have the best solution for their needs, you might still fail to close the deal if the customer’s sales resistance is unusually high. If that’s the case, one great tip is to be super friendly (people buy from people they like), but to gently “take it away” – take your solution away from the customer with something like “maybe you’re not the ideal candidate for this” or “perhaps you can find a better solution than this one.” A surprisingly high percentage of sales-resistant customers will actually be powerfully drawn to your solution once it starts to be taken away from them.
All of these ideas start and end with the appropriate mindset of pulling instead of pushing, of sorting instead of selling. A proper investment in your mindset will drive profits to the bottom line of your business… so before your next heavy selling shift, give some thought to how you can hone your salescraft by sharpening your customer-oriented mindset.
by Michael D. Hume, M.S.
Michael Hume is a speaker, writer, and consultant specializing in helping people maximize their potential and enjoy inspiring lives. As part of his inspirational leadership mission, he coaches executives and leaders in growing their personal sense of well-being through wealth creation and management, along with personal vitality.
Michael and his wife, Kathryn, divide their time between homes in California and Colorado. They are very proud of their offspring, who grew up to include a homemaker, a rock star, a service talent, and a television expert. Two grandchildren also warm their hearts! Visit Michael’s web site at http://michaelhume.net
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