Beth walked into the electronics store specifically looking for the cheapest stereo VCR that was for sale to replace her broken one. The only reason she selected this electronics store was because of their constant barrage of advertisements on TV and in the newspapers.
As she threaded her way around the displays, finally seeing the VCRs on display in the back, she just sensed that a salesperson had already attached himself to her. Once at the display, she turned around.
Yes, she thought to herself, not 10 feet into the store and . . . what is his name
. . . reading the little name plate over his shirt pocket, Harry has me in his sights. Well, Harry’s in for a quick and easy sale.
“My name’s Harry, and how can I be of help?” he asked, smiling as he extended his hand.
“Very simple,” responded Beth, giving a quick shake of the hand. “I want to know the price of the cheapest stereo VCR that you have, if you have it in stock, and if you do, do you take American Express?”
“You don’t want to do time recording?”
“No. My husband and I never record anything off the TV. We use it to play tapes, and that’s it. What’s the cheapest one you have, is it in stock?”
“Are you going to plug it into a surround sound system?”
“Look,” said Beth, a bit annoyed, “I have no idea what surround sound is and don’t care. My husband and I play tapes on our TV. We have tapes that are stereo. What’s the cheapest? In stock? American Express?”
“I’m not sure . . .” responded Harry, “usually customers buy the more expensive stereo models for the additional features and . . . ” Seeing the look on Beth’s face, he added, “I’ll have to go look it up, be back in a bit.”
Beth waited for about four minutes, and with Harry still not in sight, she walked out of the store swearing that she’d never set foot in that place again and she never has. She crossed the street to another store, asked the same questions, got answers and bought.
No sale. Harry was so busy trying to sell, he completely missed Beth’s obvious need to buy. At best she saw his selling attempts as a blockade in her need to have a cheap stereo VCR. At worst, his selling was perceived as a way to get her to spend more. Ironically, when she did buy across the street, she had no idea if that VCR cost more than Harry’s.
It’s very easy for salespeople to blame everything else and/or everyone else for a sale not happening. The last place looked at, if ever, is in the mirror. It’s so much easier, around the coffee pot at break time, to blame the economy, the lousy weather, the time of year, the time of the week, the time of day, the idiots at the factory, the numbskull in purchasing, whatever; the list is endless.
It’s also easy for salespeople to fall into the delusion that they can sell anyone anything because of their outstanding selling techniques. You may have heard of how “she could sell ice cubes to an Eskimo in winter.”
Out of the last 100 buyers, not prospects, of your product, at least 99 bought because it solved some pain they had. Their buying had little or nothing to do with your selling technique. In fact, some may have bought from you even though they found your technique to be annoying.
You don’t sell; you set the stage for the buyer to discover that your product will solve a pain he currently has, or shortly will have. In other words, the buyer is already motivated, and it is your job to show him how your product will solve his pain.
The setting of the stage is done by allowing the buyer to answer questions.
“That’s interesting you selected (fill-in the blank) to consider. Why did you do that when there are so many other (fill-in the blank) to choose from?”
“It sounds from the way you answered that question you’ve done a lot of figuring about how to solve your problem. Is this something you always do when looking to purchase?”
“How did you come up with this method of making a decision?”
By asking questions, you allow the prospect to “discover” her own reasons for purchasing. In addition, by doing this, the prospect does not see, hear, or feel you selling. The prospect sees you listening and occasionally making a suggestion. The effect on the prospect is that suddenly you are the smartest and most effective problem-solver she has ever encountered.
A prospect buys because she is allowed to discover that your product fills a need. You do not stand in the way of this process; you help it along.
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