Understanding what’s going on inside the customer’s head is more important than anything else you’re trying to accomplish. Thinking like a customer isn’t just an interesting option – it’s a requirement.
Here are eight mistakes that will keep you from understanding and responding to customer needs — and cost you sales, according to John Graham, sales consultant. Share them with your team — especially your salespeople:
- Trying to pull the customer instead of pushing. Traditionally, selling has been something of a push process. Salespeople develop strategies for getting the customer to buy. But it’s far less effective than the pull approach, which invites the customer to look more and to follow new, interesting and worthwhile “paths.”
- Deciding when the customer should buy. One of the most costly mistakes made by salespeople is not just failing to think like a customer but trying to think for the customer. Decision making is more complicated today, and no one wants to make a purchasing mistake. The salesperson no longer controls the buying cycle. Getting the order depends on shadowing the customer until the customer gets ready to buy. If you don’t, someone else walks away with the order.
- Not letting prospects talk. The chances of making the sale increase the longer the prospect talks — and vice versa. The best salespeople create a climate for the customer to become highly involved in the buying process. Failing to listen to prospects isn’t just a matter of not hearing what’s being said. It’s deliberately ignoring the customer’s agenda.
- Limiting options. Too many choices can confuse and overwhelm prospects and make them unable to make a buying decision. But offering a single solution may drive a prospect to look for other alternatives. Today’s customers want choices, but they want them to be relevant to what they need to accomplish.
- Writing off customers too soon. There are occasions when customers have an immediate need, but it doesn’t happen often. Delays in decision making are normal today. The key to making the sale is managing prospects over time. Failing to do this usually results in dismissing the prospect too quickly. If you’re not there when the customer is ready to buy, the sale goes to someone else.
- Failing to do adequate pre-call planning. Being poorly prepared is the number one reason why salespeople don’t get the sale. Your competition may outsell you because they know more about the prospect’s situation than you do.
- Overreacting to objections. When you encounter objections, don’t go into a reactionary mode. Instead, listen and then ask a question. Try to make it open-ended and investigative.
- Failing to properly screen prospects. Often sales efforts end up aimed at someone who is not a potential buyer. Selling is rarely about convincing someone they need what you sell. Selling is really about identifying who needs what you have and being the one to get it to them.