Jul 4, 2016

KNOW YOUR BUYERS

KNOW YOUR BUYERS


KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS


Whether buying for themselves, as consumers or buying for their organization, customers are human; in business-to-business selling it is an error to eliminate humanity from the buying dynamic. Understanding how people react to the purchase moment is important to the professional salesperson.

Customers buy to feel good or to solve a problem or to fulfill their requirements. The customer chooses the solution to the problem to avoid loss or for a chance of game. People want to buy; they do not like to be sold. People want to own. In many buying situations, people want help to buy. This help includes information, but help is also your encouragement. The customer wants to decide and he wants the salesperson to help him decide. All though in general, customers are most afraid of buying incorrectly, they are also afraid of not buying and losing something. Buyers depend on sales people to honestly represent the information necessary to make the comfortable decision. In general, the customer wants to buy as much as the sales person wants to sell. Usually the biggest customer disappointment is their perceived inability to afford the purchase. When buying for themselves, even the most prudent and cautious customer is capable of making almost instant purchase decisions, even for major items such as a heavy machinery or a large equipment. When buying for their companies, even the fastest decision makers are hesitant to buy due to the high chance of colleague criticism.

A happy buyer always makes a good deal. Happy buyers always make a good deal buying a car, a stereo system, real estate, jewelry, antiques. Just ask the new car buyer. He will always say, well the list price was $X.X.X. but I got it for $Y.Y.Y. That is one of the reasons why your customer service value files and investment return analysis are so effective.

Happy customers sub consciously reinforce their decision. After people buy a new car, for example they then notice the frequency of that car on the road, whereas before it was seldom scene.

Happy customers are eager to tell others of their astute purchase, another form of decision reinforcement. (Happy recent buyers are a super source of reference.)

Society has conditioned buyers to be wary of salespeople. And because customers rarely run into the stereotypical hustling sales person, they respond positively to low key, relaxed salespeople.

Customers have real fears of making a buying mistake, and of buying from the wrong people. This is why customers put off making a buying decision. They believe that not buying avoids making a mistake. It is important for the sales person to consistently remember that buyers have underlying buying fears. Accurate, honest calculations of the quantified benefits of the product solution, plus successful product trials are necessary to convince hesitant buyers.

The best way to earn trust and create relationship is to ask honest, sincere questions… and then to be quiet and listen attentively to everything, the customer has to say.

IDENTIFYING BUYING SKILLS
While you are listening, also sharply observe your customer. Here are typical actions that indicate the customer is moving closer to a purchase decision.

BUY SIGNALS

Ask questions.

Says “yes” often.

Re-examines product.

Asks who else uses product.

Asks a question commonly asked by other customers.

Agrees with minor benefits and features.

Asks technical question.

NOTE:

Many sales people miss this buy signal. The customer asks, “What is the temperature range of the product?” the proper response is to give the accurate temperature range, and then ask the customer “why do you ask?’ the customer has a need in mind.

Gives a knowing smile when you mention a benefit perfect for the customer.

Ask a colleague, especially subordinate, to” come in and take a look at this!”.

Says “it’s good, but out of our price range.” Or, “it’s not in the budget”.

Says, “Do you offer discounts?” or, “is this your best price?”.

Asks for a trial or demonstration.

Says, “I will try it”.

NOTE: 

This would be humorous if all salespeople were good listeners, but many are not. They keep talking after the customer has decided to buy.

OVERWHELMING A CUSTOMER’S BUYING FEARS

People buy to feel good or to solve a problem. They put a value, tangible and intangible, on the worth of a solution. The worth of the solution is seen as either the promise of gain, or as the avoidance of loss. Consequently, if your products are benefits fill the customer’s business and personal needs, then it is always costing the customer something (money or intangible) to go without your solution. Your job is to help the customer see that cost. In order to do that, you must ally the natural buyers fears present to some degree in all buyers.

Even when customer is buying a product with his company’s money to fulfill a business need, he still has personal fears. In fact, a business prospect often has more fears when he buys for a company than when he buys for himself.

Your job is to overcome the customer’s fear of buying with proof of greater gain.

A customer’s initial fears are almost always one of the following:

Fear of the unknown. This fear is always present at the beginning of a sales call.

“How long will this take?” “What is he trying to sell me?” “How much will it cost?” “Can I afford it?” “What is in it for me?”

Fear that buying the product may be a mistake.

Fear that buying from the seller may be mistake.

Fear of personal loss such as, stature, reputation or job.

Fear of criticism and disapproval from colleagues and superiors.

Fear of being tricked, hustled, and manipulated.

Fear of making a change; of trying something new.

The best way to allay the customer’s fear is to empathize with the buyer. Put yourself in the buyer’s position. Assume he is a reasonable person who is not buying because you are taking too much, emphasizing the wrong benefits, and not showing enough proof, not quantifying the benefits of insufficiently answering his objections.

One excellent empathy method is the “feel, felt, found” technique. (See “Handling objections.”) Assuming the buyer still has some fears you respond to his concern as follows:

“I know how you feel.”.

“Other customers like ABC and XYZ Corps have felt the same way.”

“But after testing, they found their concerns were adequately handled.”

This approach helps you relate to the customer to empathize with his concerns, and to bring in third party testimonials or other proof that your benefits are real.

He must always be straight forwards and honest. Be logical. Quantify the benefits.

You must communicate to the buyer that your success is directly linked to the buyer’s success. For example, if the customer tries and likes your product he will be inclined to buy more. Tell him that, if he likes your product he may tell other potential customers. Tell him that referrals and positive word of thought is also a goal of yours. Conversely, if you do poorly that will haunt you. Let him know your success is mutual.

One good rule is to never let your customer make a mistake. Always demonstrate that your customer’s success comes first. Please review the questions in the first sales call seller-inspired sales call section. Those questions are designed to customer to discover your customer’s personal concerns and needs.

A recent survey on industrial buyers revealed serious weakness with today’s salespeople. These findings signal how the professional salesperson can create a positive image for himself and the company. Keep in mind that we often compete for the customer’s pocket book…. Against other places he could invest. Be the best salesperson your customer knows.

OF THE 10,000 BUYERS;

96% or 9,600 buyers, said salespeople did not ask for a commitment for an order.

89% said the salespeople did not know his or her products.

88% said there was no demonstration.

85% said, salespeople lack empathy.

83% of salespeople do not set a time period for a sales call.

82% said they would not repurchase from the salesperson or the company due to the seller’s neglect or indifference.

CUSTOMER BUYERS LIKE SALESPEOPLE THAT..

Are organized, business-like, buttoned-up, and professional.

Get immediately to the point.

Follow up after the sales to be sure everything is ok.

Make appointments.

Give well organized presentations complete with visuals, specific benefits quantified, and leave behind summaries.

Have adequate knowledge of the customer’s business.

Do not exceed the scheduled sales call time.

Appreciate the customer’s position and give him information that reinforces te customer’s decision to buy.

Admit to a problem and work hard to fix it.

Under promise and over deliver.

CUSTOMER BUYERS DISLIKE SALESPEOPLE THAT..

Stop in without an appointment.

Lack knowledge of their own products, prices and manufacturing points.

Use the “back door” and go to the person in the plant to sell, and constantly try to bypass the system.

Are name droppers.

Are abrasive know-it-all.

Always ask for special consideration.

Readily promise quality, results and delivery dates that are unrealistic.

Submit sloppy or incomplete proposals.

Call to frequently when there is no reason to call.

Feel they have to take the customer to lunch or dinner.

The “fawning” attitude of non-professional salespeople.

Enter a bid, lose the sale, and want to rebid at a lower cost.

Respond to competitors ‘lower prices with immediate and deep price concessions. These knee-jerk-reactions signal to the customers that they have been over playing all along.

Ask for an order because they are having a contest.

Oversell and persist in showing every one of several items.

Tell the customers “all the good companies are using the products”.

Criticize their direct competitors.

Tell too much about the customer’s competition. PAs distrust this behavior. Customer thinks the salesperson talks about their companies.

“Spy” on the customer’s company, always looking for gossip and inside information.

Socialize instead of getting promptly to the business at hand.

Have changed to a competitive company and expect the customer to automatically drop relationship with former company.

Expect immediate orders.

Try to buy the business by continually trying to involve the customer in social functions.

Persistently sell for additional business when they already have a “fair share”. (Note: selling style is important here. Great salespeople honestly believe their fair share is everything).

Fail to follow up and secure action on questions.

Follow up too quickly on samples submitted or trial conducted at customer place for evaluation.

Disregard the customer’s company policies.

Use tactics similar to obvious and overused closing techniques such as “buy it today, and you will get a special price”.

A LADY DECISION MAKER

The target audience decision makers for company’s technology can be segmented in to numerous groups. …old engineers, young buyers, by title, by industry, and so forth. It is a fact that women are becoming more important in the purchase decision. Therefore, it is not sexist for the professional salesperson…. Male and female ------- to better understand some generalizations of the women decision –maker.

DEALING WITH THE WOMEN CUSTOMER;
She is extremely well organized and expects the same from a salesperson.

Time, deadlines, calendars, schedules, and timeliness are watched carefully. She expects salespeople to be prompt…… at both ends of a sales call, and with all follow up.

She is sensitive to men who consider her technically inferior. Regardless of the technical proficiency of the women buyer do not send signals that she is technically inept.

Particularly in the early phases of the business relationship, she is not open to discussing personal issues, such as children, lifestyles and the like.

She is put off by any unprofessional familiarity. Although when wishes to be treated as an equal and her male colleagues are treated, she is not comfortable with invitations to meet after work to go to a lunch or dinner. Breakfast meetings are OK.

She is precise. Off-hand or approximate, estimates, particularly for prices, is not acceptable. Be prepared to give accurate numbers.

The women customer is observant. More so than the male buyer, she will quickly take note of your clothes, appearance, presentation materials, and attitude. He can be adversely affected by inappropriate clothes or strong colognes. Be neat and well groomed.

It is generally not appropriate to compliment a women customer on her hair, clothes or perfume.

Women customer is often smart, ambitious and hard working, by-the-book, and loyal to her managers and company. She expects you to help her succeed, and success is usually measured as meeting her specific job objectives.

In general, the higher standards of precision and preparation required for the women buyer should be applied with every customer’s




May 16, 2016

SALESPERSON'S WORK AREA

SALESPERSON'S WORK AREA

The lesson being learned by large and small organizations, companies or any private institutions alike is that trying to compete entirely on the basis of product differentiation or price is simply not good business. A competitive strategy that focuses on price will inevitably shrink profit margins and create a push towards greater degree of standardization of products.

Competing on the basis of product differentiation is becoming increasingly futile. In today’s market place, success is determined more by excellent service than by product superiority.

You have to think of continuous improvement irrespective of level and this is the only way of survival.

DIMENSIONS OF CUSTOMER FOCUS

Consider the activities and standards given on this page following the questionnaire in terms of your own work area. Depending on how much these measures are genuinely used as part of normal practice; score them on the scale below. Do not base your score on claims alone: evaluate the actual situation as you believe it exists.

Customer in this questionnaire means the internal or external receiver or user of the output of efforts.

The scale for your scoring is as follows.

0- never, 1- occasionally, 2- sometimes, 3- quite often, 4- regularly, 5- always.

Actively seeks out customer perception of the project/service provided.

Have complete and accurate records.

Responds to a request at the first request.

Internally reviews fulfillment of customer requirements as stated.

MEETS DEADLINES

Responds to incoming communication ‘by return’ with at least a suitable tag.

Tells you what they can do, not what they can’t.

Sets clear standards of customer service among employees.

Work longer hours when needed (not just in order to earn overtime).

Makes points of keeping in touch with customers regularly, not just decision-points or about problems.

Offers a response to a need or a problem, rather than waiting to be asked.

Asks customers to be involved in developing or improving products and services.

Gives employees authority to make decisions to help customers without asking for higher authority.

Really listens to the customer’s requirements.

Asks all employees with customer contact for customer feedback.

Has mechanism to monitor customer satisfaction.

Analyzes the customer complaints or problems and identities lessons to be learned.

Gives high priority to quality.

Tells employees clearly what the organization is trying to achieve for its customer.

Tells employees clearly what the organization’s own objectives are

Works to the same standard and values internally as externally.

Strives to have shorter response times.

Ensures that all employees are positive and open to customer comments.

Have employees who are polite.

Actively aims for a problem-free service to the customer.

Has a positive attitude to complaints.

Expect to changes its modus operandi if it helps the customer.

Examines the design of the products or services from the customer’s point of view.

Communicates performances levels achieved to all employees.

Total Scores =? (Put your score and self evaluate your working level)

SCORE THE FOLLOWING

To what degree have you made a commitment to making service a strategic part of your business?

How often does the service you provide create stories your customers brag about?

To what degree does your complaint policy provide hassle free recovery for the customer?

How often do you initiate efforts to find disgruntled customers beyond a ‘normal’ complaint process?

How often do you implement suggestion for service improvement from frontline employees?

To what degree are you satisfied with the level of service you now provide?

Overall, how does you organization rate in providing service to customers?

Total Score=?

How well does your Organization provide Service?

To what degree is it ‘safe’ to communicate negative information to managers in your organization?

To what degree are front line suggestions proactively and sincerely solicited?

How do you proactively listen to you customers?

To what degree are “core values” articulated and followed in your organization?

To what degree are people clear about what is expected from them?

To what degree are people allowed to deviate from standard practices and use their own judgment?

Based on your assessments above, what is your organizational score?

Total Score=?

How many meetings do you have that focus on service issues compared to meeting regarding budget, costs or productivity?

How well do you collect, quantify and act on “subjective” customer opinions?

How often service measurements are consistently fed back to all levels in your organizations?

To what degree supervisors and managers held accountable for their role in assisting service improvements?

To what degree excellent service providers differentiated from average performers?

How many ways does your organization recognize and celebrate the success of customer-contact employees?

Based on your assessments above, what is your overall organizational score?

Total Score=?

By practicing and executing the above regularly, I am sure within a month’s period of times you will see the drastic changes in your sales profession and it would help you to improve your customer service skills for ever to monitor and maintain the customer service file as a part of your job.