Nov 05

Succeed in sales, focus on customer needs not on what you are selling

Posted by Caroline Longstaffe at Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Stop selling, help your customer to buy!

Sales people should focus on what the customer needs not what they are selling

Why do car sales people get such a bad wrap? The car sales person is one of those types of people that we all love to hate. Why is that? When we want to buy a car, we want someone to help us, someone to listen and understand our needs. Most people dread the idea of having to deal with the car sales person. Typically, within a few seconds, these type of sales people demonstrate that they are not sincere, that they care little about customer needs, they only care about selling us something – anything ... or at least any car on their lot.

They are not all like that. Car sales people are not all created equal. Here’s a car sales story of a different caliber. I was fortunate to be in the search for a new car – in fact a car that would be ‘new’ to me but actually a used car … I had spent time researching the market; I had a pretty good idea of what I would need to pay for the car model and year that I had chosen. I had decided on a car that was several years old and one that had already taken a big hit in depreciation.

Get to know your customer, their needs and concerns

So what happened? Well, to my surprise this particular sales person took the time to get to know more about me. He didn’t parade around the car lot spouting-on about how great all the cars looked. He asked intelligent, searching questions about what other cars I owned; what I had driven in the past; what I liked and didn’t like; and why I was looking. He asked about me and my family and tried to build a picture of what I really needed, as well as what I said I wa

Ask questions, listen and probe, make the client feel you care 

It became clear that the salesperson's focus was on ME, the potential buyer. He asked good questions, listened carefully and then started to probe more deeply about my reasoning for why I wanted a used car, as opposed to a new one. He was then able to suggest that he might have a solution that would meet all my needs AND mean that I could be driving a brand new car, 

sales people must handle objections and focus on customer needs

not a used one. I had never in my wildest dreams thought that that would be possible for the type of car I wanted. He showed me an exciting option, which was far better than the one I had original planned. Without pushing me in that direction he suggested, offered and compared alternatives - until I felt that I had made decision to buy new instead of used.

Be sincere and interested to build trust

How did he do that? Firstly he identified that my primary decision- making factor was my assumed monthly cost of financing a car. I had a limit, he didn’t try to change the limit, he respected the fact that I had done my homework but he presented a new solution – a lease which would enable me to have a fixed monthly cost within my budget. He explained the business rationale for leasing the car through the business and was able to talk as a peer. He was someone helping me to make an important decision. He was sincere and interested in my needs and as such made me feel comfortable and willing to trust his advice. At the same time he was looking to the long-term. What he saw in me was someone who could become a repeat customer and a source of referrals and recommendations.

So what does all this tell us? Sales people (even the dreaded car sales variety) would all do better if they focused on the customer first and their products second. Sales people should not be selling; they should be helping the customer to buy!


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