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Worse, when you are focused on yourself, your product, and your goals your entire interaction with that potential customer is compromised. Your thoughts affect your actions, so you are likely to create these problems for yourself:
- Failure to really listen, which makes it difficult for you to build rapport or to identify buying motives.
- Asking closed ended, shortcut questions, which makes your prospect feel like the subject of an interrogation. When they feel defensive, they cover up rather than reveal their real needs. You won't have a shot.
- Spouting product features and benefits from your own perspective rather than connecting what you have with the prospect's needs and wants. Your company may be the only one that offers your product in neon purple, but unless that prospect wants it in neon purple your company's unique color offering is irrelevant. Your prospect will be developing Xs over his or her eyeballs while you waste time talking about aspects of your product or service that they don't even care about. Provided that they don't throw you out for breaking rapport!
Whether you think they have a need or not, your prospect has to be able to see it for himself or herself. You could be absolutely right in your own mind that they need it. But the only thing that matters is whether they see it too. They may have problems that are, in effect, latent needs. They see the problems but haven't decided to take action on them yet. They might not even realize that improvement in their problems is possible.
Your job is to help them think through their challenges by asking open-ended questions:
- What is working really well for you in this area of your business?
- What is driving you nuts?
- What do the current conditions mean for your business? What's the impact on customers? Your finances? Your ability to manage? Your ability to grow and innovate?
- If things could improve, what would that look like?
- How would that affect your customers, finances, your ability to manage or your ability to grow?
Then and only then do you start to present solutions, and when you do so you connect the benefits of your product's or service's features with the things that are important to them. You want to help them connect the dots between making a decision to change something with improvement in their business.
Let's say it again - if you tell them they are far less likely to believe it than if they convince themselves. Your job is to facilitate them through the analysis and problem solving process. If it takes them some time to draw the conclusions that are obvious to you, take the time they need. You live with this information every day, and they have many hats to wear in the course of a day or a week. Their focus might have been on another issue entirely before your appointment with them. People don't like to feel stupid, and feeling stupid about prior decisions doesn't incline them to hurry up and make a new decision now.
In summary, if you want more results from your sales activities, you need to
- Take an assistant buyer's mindset, placing yourself in the prospective customer's shoes and working to understand his or her perspective.
- Ask open ended questions to help him or her analyze the current situation and its implications for the company, the improved situation and its implications, and then identify the gap, the obstacles, that are preventing them from closing the gap.
- Then, and only then, is the situation ripe for you to present your solutions, connecting the benefits you can offer to help the prospect close the gap between their current and desired business conditions.