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The Four Letter Word You Didn’t Know Your Customers Hated

In this global economy, there is always something for sale and multiple ways to buy.  If nothing is certain in this world, it is this; someone is always buying something!  People, businesses and governments are making purchases everyday in a number of different ways.  Commerce is what makes the world turn.  Trading, even at it’s simplest form, is the foundation of the world we live in.  You have something I want, therefore, in order for me to get it from you I have to have something you want.  Most times that something is money.  The great thing about money is this; I can get as much of it as I want because people will give it to me… If I give them something they want or need in return.  The amount of money I get is up to me based on how well I meet the customer’s need or desire.  I’m talking about selling!

Be careful, people hate to be sold, so when you sell don’t talk your way out of a sale!   Even the most successful, hardcore, Type A, professional, career salespeople know that you can’t make a living taking orders.  You have to attach additional items (also known as upselling) to the sale.  The manner in which you do so will either drive customers away, or it will draw them in.  This is when having a relationship or rapport with your clients comes in handy.  By having a conversation as opposed to selling, you can lower the clients guard and make them more open minded to the products or services you are recommending.   Never, I repeat, NEVER use the word “sell” when you are selling!  I know this seems weird, but think about the perception of a used car salesman in the mind of a consumer.  Words like tricky, deceitful and dishonest may come to mind.  Here are a few tips to help you sell without selling:

  1. USE THE CUSTOMER’S NAME: It doesn’t matter if you are on a first name basis or if you use their title, such as Mr. or Mrs.; What does matter is that they recognize that they are not just another number or faceless consumer.
  2. ASK PLENTY OF QUESTIONS:  This is absolutely critical if you are going to properly address the needs and/or desires of that client.  Keep in mind, they don’t know your product the way you do.  As a salesperson, you must also be the subject matter expert or have access to the subject matter expert in order for that client to trust you and trust your recommendations.  You may even find out that the customer needs something totally different than what they came to you for.
  3. LISTEN CAREFULLY: It is important that you clearly understand what the customer is saying and that you can repeat it back to them during your presentation.  This is particularly important if you are going to recommend a product other than what they asked for.  If a client comes to you to buy a DVD writer and a case of blank DVDs so they can back up their data and you decide to recommend to them a networkable USB drive with a 4 terabytes of storage, you need to be able to explain how this more expensive product will make their lives/jobs easier.  You do that by repeating back to them whatever they told you about their need and tying it into how they can use this USB drive.
  4. DO NOT SELL: I know that is the opposite of what you’ve been taught in every training class you’ve ever been to, but this is important.  Of course you’re selling, but pretend like you’re selling to your mother.  Point out things that are relevant and then offer it or recommend it along with all of the other products that make it work.  Package it all together and explain what each product is and why they need it and what it has to do with the product that they went to you for.  Do not ask if they want fries with their burger.  Instead tell them that you are going to get them some fries because the burger would be incomplete without it.  Of course if there is a burger and salty fries, the customer is going to get thirsty.  Do not ask if they want a drink.  Instead ask them what flavor drink they want and add it to the order. 

Fast food restaurants have mastered selling without selling. They have made it so much easier and more attractive to by the combo meal, that even if you don’t want French fries, you’ll probably get them anyway.  Ok, so maybe you don’t eat fast food.  In that case, think about your favorite steakhouse or seafood restaurant.  When the server comes to your table, most times they will tell you what the special of the day is before you’ve decided what you want from the regular menu.  Have you ever been to a nice restaurant and the server asked you if you wanted a drink?  No, you probably haven’t.   More than likely, the server asked, “What can I get you to drink?”  How about after the meal?  They come around with the dessert tray and OFFER or RECOMMEND their desserts.  There is a reason that they show it to you before they tell you what it is.  It is the subtle psychology of selling.  If you are a person who is enticed by desserts, then your eyes have communicated to your brain that the dessert looks good.  Even if you don’t order the dessert, you are more likely to listen to the presentation and be slightly tempted.

I know you can’t pull out a copy machine and make your clients mouth water, but by demonstrating the features and benefits of whatever your company sells and by demonstrating how it will benefit the client you can sell without selling.  With a bit a questioning, active listening and a compelling presentation, you could sell anything to just about anyone.  Case in point, there is a popular men’s clothing store that I used to work for.  Our region led the company in selling accessories (ties, belts, shoes, etc.). The reason why, is because of our presentation.  A gentleman comes in for a suit, of course we take his measurements, help him pick out a few choices and get him into the dressing room to try on the pants.  While he’s in there, the whole store gets busy putting matching shirts, ties, belts, cufflinks and socks on the table with the suit jacket that he picked out.  By the time he comes out of the dressing room, he can see not only the suit he picked out, but he can see about 5-7 different looks for that one suit.  Just to keep him in the store longer, we would get him a cup of coffee, shine his shoes and press the suit he had on.  This gave him more time to look at more products.  Add in easy financing options in case he was a bit cash strapped, and this guy who only came in for a suit will probably leave with 3 suits 6 shirts a pair of shoes and a belt.  All of this comes because we showed it to him in a way that appealed to his senses.  We were able to sell without selling! 

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