When we call, email, visit a website or make any other formal inquiry, we are doing so with one intention. To get a solution to our problem. That solution can be as simple as a useful answer to a pressing question.
Think about it, how many completely uncertain purchases have you made in your life?
If your answer is more than zero, then you need to review how you make purchase decisions.
Now, think of yourself as a salesperson, a customer service rep or a marketing professional. How often do we expect to sell something to a person without addressing all of their concerns?
How often do we expect a ten-second phone call to end in a sale?
‘Too often’, is the answer.
Any strong website will show you that only 1 out of 100 people actually makes a purchase on their first visit.
3 to 5 out of 100 will make a purchase on a return visit – these purchases are made after they first take a small step on your website; like downloading a quote, reading product descriptions and reviews, sending an email/lead form, or bookmarking your URL for later.
The remainder of those 100 visitors will leave your website to visit your competitor’s websites or to view reliable review sites. They may only come back after they have enough information about your company and the products/services you offer.
In short, we as buyers are not ready to purchase immediately.
We take small steps in our search for more information before we buy. This is obvious when you think about it as a buyer.
But, as sellers, we often forget that we are here to guide a person through their journey until they are ready to make a purchase. Instead, we often respond to the pressure to make an immediate sale.
Textbook marketing teaches you that before anyone makes a purchase, they first need to be aware of their problem. Following that, they need to be aware of the solution and that you provide that solution. Lastly, they need to know how you compare to the other possible solutions, how much your solution costs, and how to get started. This is mostly true, with some difference from industry to industry and, most importantly, from individual to individual. This also differs in how long the process takes, for some products it is almost instant, for others it can take months.
Being aware of the above when handling your next sales query will help you address your prospect’s exact needs, and help you convert a prospect into a customer more often.
So, how do you accomplish this exactly?
- Understand your customer – what information are they really looking for when asking a question?
- Have a conversation – develop rapport by asking deeper, problem-solving, questions.
- Educate your customer – what do they need to know about the solution and what is the next step?
Understand your customer
Here is an example:
A person will call you asking “where is your company based?”
The short answer and direct answer is your exact location.
But, what else are they trying to determine with this question? Maybe:
- If you service their area
- If they can come in and check the quality of your product
- If they can trust you by verifying that you are not a fly by night company
- If they can come in and fulfil their request ASAP
You can confirm any of the above by asking probing questions with the intention of helping your prospect.
Have a conversation
Firstly, don’t be vague with your answers. Be direct and give them the information they are asking for, as long as this information is relevant to the business.
Following that you can ask the right questions to help you determine exactly what your customer needs.
To continue with the above example, you can respond to your prospect’s query with:
“We are based in x and deliver throughout y. What can I assist you with today?”
The response from the prospect can help you determine their deeper concerns and how to address those concerns, such as:
- Concerned about quality – offer them a free sample of the product
- Concerned about your reputation – provide some more information about your company, the benefits and direct them to your reviews
- Concerned about turn-around time – let them know your standard turn-around times and what options they have to get their items quicker
- Concerned about the costs – offer a quote
- Ready to order – help them through the process of ordering
Lastly, don’t be afraid to have a human to human conversation. Whether you’re communicating via phone, email or web chat, people can sense when you are nervous, not present or uncertain.
Relax, listen, and respond directly.
Educate your customer
This is about making it easy for your prospect to take the next step.
The most important things to cover here is a summary of the proposed solution. Don’t forget to use this opportunity to emphasize the key benefits of your products and services.
You should also suggest the easiest way to get started. This could be:
- Requesting a formal quote – and how to activate the quote
- Requesting a sample – and what can be done from there
- Requesting more information on special offers in the future – and when they can expect communication
- Making a small test order – and what is a popular small order
- Making the full order – and what they can expect once they make the order
Remember, there are a number of small steps before closing the sale. These small steps provide your prospect with something useful and with an opportunity to share details to continue the conversation in the future.
Few people are ready to buy immediately. However, many more aren’t.
For the many, what they are looking for is useful information and the easiest steps they can take before making the final purchase. As a salesperson, a marketer or a customer service rep; your responsibility is to provide the information and make the small steps towards the sale as simple and easy as possible.
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