Do we understand what customers are truly saying when they voice their concerns or objections? We always have a rebuttal prepared just in case an objection arises but there are many different ways to approach our customers without losing focus on them and their needs.
“We’re losing social skills, the human interaction skills, how to read a person’s mood, to read their body language, how to be patient until the moment is right to make or press a point. Too much exclusive use of electronic information dehumanizes what is a very, very important part of community life and living together.”
— Vincent Nichols
Anything from reading body language, using psychology or studying techniques to persuade them into buying, have been a part of someone’s sales process if not our own. I have personally found, the best way to understand my customer is to actually listen to what they are saying. What I mean is literally put your phone down, close your mouth and open your ears. We can easily misinterpret something if we don’t pay close attention and the best way to focus is to be silent and allow our customers to voice their concerns.
In this article I will present a few techniques and ideas to help you focus and get you back on track when communicating with your customer.
- Just Breathe. We have all experienced an uncomfortable situation where friendly opinions have turned into debates. Whether it be with family members, friends or co-workers. In any case, this may be a good opportunity to put your listening skills to the test. The next time you notice yourself communicating impulsively, try relaxing by breathing slowly and focus on what your customer is expressing. You will notice their tone and demeanor will start to mimic your own, so it’s important to be aware of your own body language as well. Folded arms can come off negatively, it’s best to just relax your arms by your side. Naturally, people adjust to the other persons tone so be aware of your tone as well.
- Smile. Smiling is contagious! It can also make someone feel at ease which makes them more inclined to open up. I am not saying smile like a crazy lunatic, just a warm smile and eye contact while communicating with your customer is a good way to make them feel comfortable. Once you put a smile on their face, you will notice how much more comfortable you feel too!
- Agree. It’s pretty simple! Agreeing is a way to acknowledge and this reassures your customer which gives them confidence and that makes them trust you! Although agreeing doesn’t mean you can’t find a better solution if necessary, it definitely breaks down your customers wall and this gives you both an opportunity to discuss any concerns. It’s very unlikely that someone will ever buy from a sales person they don’t trust or respect. So just remember, acknowledging equals respect and that is key here.
- Repeat concerns. This technique not only gives your customer validation, it tells them you were listening. Use common sense when repeating statements because what may not come off as offensive to you when said out loud, could actually sound offensive to someone else when heard. For example, If your customer says, “I can’t afford this” this can be translated to “I understand, this not within your budget” You don’t want to repeat “ you can’t afford this” That could be insulting even if it wasn’t intentional. Even if it was exactly what they said and meant. Use discretion.
- Clarify. When price is an objection you will want to clarify where their concern truly lies…”Is it the total investment or monthly payment” Assuming you have already presented both ideas. This is where your listening skills will really pay off. If you were building rapport early on and listening to your customers concerns, you may have remembered a conversation about lifestyle. “My daughter just started college” or “my husband travels a lot” All of these scenarios come into play when talking about budget and payments.
- Get their approval. You have to ask for the sale. An easy transition might be something like, “Mrs. Customer, can you see how this product will provide all the wants, needs and desires you said you wanted” (list them) wait for a response and then say “Great, I just need your approval here and we can get started.” By repeating all of the benefits and features your customer sated they wanted, needed and desired from your initial conversation, you show you were listening. You show you are truly there to assist them in making a well informed decision and a purchase they actually want. If you do this with every customer you are providing a great experience! Customize this technique to fit the product you are selling but in general, when repeating your customers’ needs, wants and desires, you are affirming their ideas not your own. Nobody likes to feel sold. Make it about your customer not yourself.
Listening is a skill. Practicing helps you improve and perfect this skill. Providing a great experience is the goal and this will benefit you by generating referrals. Your customer will appreciate you and provide referrals from family and friends when you give them the best buying experience ever.