Growing your customer base is easier than you think. You must take the time to know the true needs of the buyer. Of course, you have to know what you sell, and what makes you attractive to the potential customer. What is your competitive edge? What is your unique selling proposition?
I recently went to a local shopping mall, and walked into a store specializing in fresh cookies. One employee was assigned the task of giving away samples of their famous chocolate chip cookie.
“Sir, here’s a sample.”
“No, thank you. I’m not much into sweets, but I would like to see what I can buy for a friend.”
She quickly broke eye contact, and lost interest in me as a customer. It appeared that she lost the bet, or was the lowest person on the totem poll, which meant she was in charge of the samples. The situation turned awkward, and I found the exit shortly thereafter.
Here are three sure-fire ways to turn off your customer:
#1: Speak only about what you sell.
The first part of any meeting with the customer should be spent on knowing what the customer needs. You can’t sell anything to anyone until you know what he or she needs. To know the customer’s requirements, you must ask questions. Remember that your goal is to bridge the gap from the customer’s current situation to where they want to be in the future.
“Ms. Customer, I see you’re here to purchase a used car. What is the purpose of the car? How many miles do you plan to drive per year? Are you going to be the sole driver? What is your range for a monthly payment? What is your preferred color?
It’s surprising how many salespeople first try to sell a car without first knowing what is important to the customer.
#2: Look distracted during the meeting.
I remember not long ago I was discussing a business situation with a young attorney. During our 1-hour meeting, he checked his Blackberry several times, and took one call from his wife. He did try and apologize: “Oh, sorry. My wife wants me to stop by the grocery story on my way home. I guess I’m in charge of the avocados!”
The fact is that I could care less about the avocado salad, and I am even less interested about the demands imposed on him by his wife. During that one paid hour, he needs to focus 100% on my legal needs and nothing else. Even apologizing doesn’t make the situation better.
#3: Try to oversell.
I recently rented a car in Oklahoma City, and was surprised with the aggressive selling technique. I have a sales background and understand how to overcome objections, but these techniques are usually uncommon in the rental car industry.
“Mr. Flores, for $20 dollars more, you can get an SUV, which is much more reliable in snowy and icy weather like today.”
“I’ll stick with my compact car. I only have a few miles to drive.”
“Let’s add the insurance option for $34.99, which covers you in case anything happens to this car. You can also take our liability coverage, which pays your deductible.”
I thanked her for the 150 options she provided to me, and declined them all. I’m sure that some of the options were good, and perhaps even smart given the inclement weather. However, when looking into her eyes, I could see a big “Q” – or a monthly quota. She looked like the manager-type, and I know it was important for her to meet her end-of-month numbers.
Regardless of what you sell, you must put the customer first. The buyers are looking for products and services that are right for them, and they will give that business to a seller who improves their situation. A good sale takes place when the customer believes the purchase is an investment, and not merely a transaction in which money is exchanged.