Steve has been doing well in his business for many years. He understands how to make cold calls, how to follow up on leads and referrals and how to offer excellent customer service. Yet, he's amazed at how much more successful Michael is in the same area under a different brand. Steve puts much more time and sweat into his work than Michael seems to do. He wonders what is missing in his approach.
The key difference between Michael's and Steve's approaches is the fact that Michael has trained himself to be an "active listener." He uses the Sales TRIUMPHS model to not only help him maximize his sales deals, but even when he is not "selling" anything, it is a powerful technique that helps him communicate effectively with his wife and family. This model works wonderfully for virtually any product or service that one is selling.
The components Sales TRIUMPHS are easy to remember.
T = Treat your customer with respect and value.
Developing rapport with the prospective customer is a crucial first step. Smile, position yourself at the same level (sitting or standing, depending on what the customer is doing), and slightly lean toward him, maintaining eye contact. Give undivided attention to the customer.
Listen to what the prospective customer is saying and don't shuffle papers or start thinking about your response. Just listen. Regardless of what the person asks, don't fall into the trap of thinking you need to answer immediately. It's OK to say, "That's a great question. Let me research our products to find what you need." Some prospective customers can be long-winded, nervously asking a lot of questions, especially with expensive products. Cutting off a speaker may lose you the rapport you need to develop. Always give the speaker the courtesy of finishing a point before you interject yours.
Take notes so you won't forget what you wanted to say.
R = Reflect the meaning of what your client is telling you before you actually respond.
The best way to understand your prospective customer is to make sure you are listening carefully and the best way to do that is to reflect or paraphrase what you heard him say before you comment on it. An example is, "What I'm hearing is that you are not certain you have enough use for this specialty tool."
I = "I statements" are powerful.
As you paraphrase and reflect back what the buyer is saying, you can use "I statements," which are very powerful. For example, "I am getting the feeling that you are uncomfortable with this product and would like some other options." For you to start with "You" would be much more threatening for the buyer. "You don't like this tool?"
It is important to realize that by understanding what the listener is saying, doesn't mean necessarily agreeing with him. You are simply showing that you are hearing his concerns. Example, "Fred, I hear your concerns because of your last experience with a similar tool. Let me get the information you will need to make you feel better about this." Always acknowledge the speaker and his position before voicing your opinion.
U = Understand the needs and goals of your customer.
If you are genuine and sell quality products that will truly satisfy your customer's needs and desires, the customer will trust you. That includes not selling him the most expensive product if you believe it is not right for him. Nothing gains their trust more than you being honest with him.
M = Monitor the tone and mannerisms of the prospective customer.
Body language is so important that studies point out that only a small percentage of what is "heard" by a listener are the words of the speaker. Most of what is "heard" by the listener is tone of voice, smiling, facial expressions, vocal inflections, etc. Watch for all of these indicators of your customer's mood and attitude. You might even wait for a pause and make an interpretation of what you are sensing. An example is, "I am feeling as if you believe that I am trying to force you to buy this tool cart. Is that what's going on in your head, Wes?"