Listen up: Sales success is calling.
By Jeffrey Gitomer
“Billy, pay attention!”
That was your first listening lesson. Probably delivered when you were too young to pay attention.
Fast-forward twentysomething years (or more) and you’re still not listening.
Your customer is telling you he or she is somewhere between “interested” and “ready” in your sales conversation, and you’re pressing to “overcome” some bogus objection because your focus is on “making the sale” rather than “helping the customer buy.”
Last month, we started into this Buying Signals lesson; this is part two. Both have one thing in common: You must be LISTENING in order to get the signals, and you must be ready to respond once you hear them. Here are a few more:
Asking positive questions about you or your business. “How long have you been with the company?” is asking about you as a sales professional. Will you be here to serve me after the sale? “How long has your company been in business?” They want to know about security, safety, and lower risk.
Wanting something repeated. “What was it that you said before about financing?” “Tell me about that again.” If prospects want to know about it again, that means there is an interest—a buying interest. If you tell them about it again, then you ask them if they want to place the order now, or if they want to hear more stuff again.
Statements about problems with previous vendors. That is huge! When prospects ask, “How long does it take to respond to a service call?” that indicates they have a service problem. Perfect time for you to ask, “Has service been problem?” “Tell me about it.” “What do type of service do you need?” “What kind of response do you need?” “So what you’re saying is, if our service is there for you when you need it, we might be the best choice for you?” What you are doing here is asking for the sale, and not giving them any reason or opportunity for the prospect to say no! This type of question is a huge buying signal. You just need to be aware of it, and be prepared to answer it before you walk in the door.
Questions about features or options. “What will it do?” “What will you do?” “Is this standard or optional?” “Is this my best option?” “Does this model come with that?” “Do I have to pay extra for this?” What these types of questions mean is that the customer is trying to picture ownership with your stuff attached to it. Your job is to recognize the signal, and be reassuring and prepared to confirm the prospect’s choice.
Questions about productivity. Productivity is a little more subtle. They may ask questions like: (I will use a copy machine as an example because everyone uses one), “How many copies a day can it make?” “How often will it break down?” “Will it be easy for my employees to use?” “What is your service response time?” Price plus productivity equals cost. Productivity is a key ingredient in your differentiation. And your job is to get them from “price” to “cost.” Sometimes it may be a price issue when it is really a cost issue. Your job is to get them to cost. Hint: You never want to be the lowest price.
Questions about quality, guarantee or warranty. “How long is this under warranty?” “How long will this last?” What the customer is saying to you is: I want to own this, but I want more reassurance.
Questions about qualifications. These can take three different paths: One is your qualifications. The second is your company’s qualifications. The third is your product’s qualifications. Ask yourself: Can all your people answer all customers’ ques-tions on the phone? Can I call you directly if I had a problem? Do you have a special help desk? All of these things relate to some form of ownership in the prospect’s mind.
Questions about the company. “What other products do you carry?” “How long have you been making this one?” “What happened to the last model?” “Do you have a new model coming out shortly?” Major clue: Answer all questions briefly and immediately. Don’t whip out the catalog or a bunch of slides. Instead, say, “Mr. Jones, let me take you on a brief virtual tour of our factory or warehouse. Let me show you some of our other products and how they can help you.” This means you have to be prepared to answer correctly.
Specific product/service questions. “How does the manual feed operate?” “Do you select the trainer or do I?” Make certain that your customer feels totally at ease about all elements of purchase and operation, including the equipment and the operation of your business. Put them at ease—but also ask for the sale.
Jeffrey Gitomer is author of The Little Red Book of Selling and The Little Red Book of Sales Answers.
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