88. What do your customer want from you, a sales person?

"No matter how hard you worked or how many concessions you have made when you sell a customer, he or she still feels that you owe them a favor."

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What are the things customers want from a sales person? The only way to know for certain is to ask them. I did just that and here is what they told me.

1. "Do not sell me - help me buy. Give me a choice between something I want and something else I want and help me decide what is best. Do not try to push something on me just because you want to sell it."

One of the things buyers really dislike is a pushy sales person. There is no faster way to damage the relationship than to apply too much pressure on your customer. Our job is to sell, however, business to business selling is much different than the "one call close" type of selling. During a one call close presentation the sales person knows that once he or she walk out the door of the prospects home the sale has ended. Many of the sales training programs we encounter are designed on this type of selling, as are many of the books we read about selling. There is a big difference.

2. "Do not sound like you just graduated from selling 101. Do not use timeworn techniques to pressure me to buy when I do not want to. Sound like someone trying to help me. Sound like a friend."

Again, we must set aside many of the basic selling tactics used in consumer selling. For example; the use of a "tie down" question. Here is how it works. A customer asks you if the product comes in a number 10 can. You respond with: "would you like it in a number 10 can?" This response makes you sound like an amateur. How should you respond? "Yes Bill, this does come in a number 10 can. It also comes in a plastic pouch. Would either one of those work out for you?" Only a slight difference, however, the first response implies pressure without having all the facts, while the second response implies that you are interested in helping them make the best choice.

3. "Be sincerely interested in what I do. My business may not seem overly impressive to you, but it is everything to me. Be interested enough in my problems to ask questions and help me find solutions."

The old school of selling used to teach us to have a high self interest. I remember one training school I attended where the instructor told me to visualize "My money is in the customers wallet - my job is to get it!" That works well when selling used cars or furniture, however, that type of attitude will destroy a relationship as well as a career in sales that require long term relationships.  It is up to you to know the difference.

4. "Do not talk down to me or tell me what I am doing is wrong. I want to feel good about the choices I have made. If I have made a mistake, be tactful. Show me how others have made the same mistake."

This desire on the part of the customer is simply to deal with a sales person who is considerate and tactful. No one likes to make a mistake; however, if you have never made any mistakes you have never done anything worthwhile. When pointing out a mistake that a customer is making, do it with extreme tact.

5. "Reinforce my decision to buy from you. I need to be reassured that buying products and services is my best alternative. Do not take my business for granted - let me know I am appreciated."

We are all guilty of taking our best customers for granted. Once a customer has been buying from us we have a tendency to let up and take it easy. We forget that our competitors are calling on them and giving them the attention they crave. If we take our customer for granted we are very likely going to be left out in the cold.

6. "Do not tell me - show me how you will service me after I commit to writing checks totaling thousands of dollars every month. Do not forget me after the initial sale by putting me on automatic pilot."

There is an old saying that is very applicable to today's business: "What you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say." Empty promises and good intentions simply do not keep the business. Even if we have a good relationship with the customer it can dissolve in a heartbeat if we do not take care of their needs and help them achieve their goals.

"Tell me success stories. Tell me about similar situations where someone using your products and services is having success. I do not want to be the first or the only. I will have a lot more confidence if I know of others who purchased and are doing well."

Once we make a sale the job is only beginning. We have to keep our customers sold and this requires reselling them every week. Talk about the successes people are having with your products and your company. When you or someone in your company opens a new account, do not keep it a secret. Customers like to deal with someone who is successful.

7. "Give me proof. I want to believe what you say, however, I have heard it all. I need facts and information that back up the statements you make. Show me a letter from a satisfied customer. I want reassurance and justification the price I am paying is fair for what I am buying."

Always back up your statements and claims with proof. When presenting new products do the required homework. Get the facts and figures to back up everything you say. Do not just rely on your relationship with the customer to make the sale. Show them you care enough to do the homework.


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