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?"
P = Probe gently and with respect.
Your job is to try to understand what your prospective customer needs and how you can accommodate those needs. The only way to show people that you have exactly the product to satisfy those needs is to ask gentle questions about their needs related to a specific tool. An example is, "If you could describe the ideal impact wrench for your shop, what would you like its specs to be?"
H = Help your client feel safe in the conversation.
For major purchases, such as shop equipment, tool storage and diagostics, customers need to feel safe discussing specific money issues. Gently probing about personal and family situations that affect their pocket book requires them being able to trust you. This entails ensuring confidentiality and showing genuine concern for their needs. If you expect them to share their biggest fears and insecurities, you must focus in on what they're saying, be sensitive and assure them that you will help them.
S = Summarize.
You'd be amazed at how much you show the speaker you are listening by frequently summarizing what you just heard. This will also help you to focus and remember what the speaker is telling you. If you have hit the key points in your summary, the speaker will feel validated and closer to you. If you missed key points that he is trying to convey, he can inform you about that at this time. Practice this with friends and family. It's easy to get the hang of it and it really works!
Sticking to this Sales TRIUMPHS model will surely bring you your share of wins over the competition.