November 20, 2007

Value of asking why?

Instead of learning how to sell our product, let’s learn why customers want to buy. There are tons of methods out there for selling, and many try to show you how to manipulate a customer into wanting what you are selling. Some offer tactics for getting the sale, and yet others offer ways of qualifying the customer to increase your chances of selling. What they all lack, or at least what we miss from all the methods, is that none of it works if the customer doesn’t want to buy.

How do we find out if a customer wants to buy; we ask questions? We ask questions, and then we LISTEN. The customer may not know themselves why they want to buy, and we definitely don’t know why they want to buy; you may think you know, you may even have a really educated guess, but until you hear it from the customer, and sometimes, until they hear it from themselves, you don’t know for sure.

No you are probably saying to yourself; But Govna, I ask questions, I qualify my opportunities, I know what my customer wants! Really? If that’s true, then ask yourself this; if the Governa were to pay you a visit, and he were to flip though your rolodex of customers, and randomly call 10 of them, and ask each of them; do you know why you bought this product from Jim? I bet 9 out of 10 of them aren’t going to have an answer. And if any of those 9 does have an answer, it’s something along the lines of;

· Jim gave me a really great discount
· Jim was a nice guy
· Or my favorite; I’ve been buying from Jim’s company for years
· We were going to buy anyway, and Jim just happened to call.

Those aren’t their real reasons, those are the reasons that Jim gave them; either through his actions, or though circumstance.

Now instead, if you, or Jim in this case, did a better job of asking the customer better questions, open ended questions, and then you listened to their answers, and you reflected back what you understood until you got it right, then you might, just might, start to get to the tip of the reason they want to buy. And after asking those questions, and listening to the answers, you then asked more questions, and listened again, you might uncover some real reasons. And then, if you continue to ask questions, and listen, then you get to the real reason, their personal motivation, their professional concerns, and their true reason for wanting your products. Now you are in the position of being able to sell to them, because you know all the information you need; and you can use all those interpersonal skills, all those techniques, all those methods for closing; cause that all comes easily, now that you and the customer know why they want to buy.

Is this some revolutionary method? No. Is this a hard concept to grasp; certainly not. But it is very hard to do in practice. But, it’s a skill, asking questions, that when mastered; lead you to great success, in anything you do in life, sales included. This is a skill I’m trying to master, trying to use more effectively every day, and so far, it’s working. I just ask all you sales people out there; how are you going to find the real reason your customer buy?

For the real methods of asking question, more specifically power questions, or open questions; I rely on two sources; Jeffery Gitomer’s Git Bits, and Situational Sales negotiation, by BayGroup International Both offer up examples and guidelines for asking and using questions to sell more effectively.

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