Have you heard the one about the man who walks into a hardware shop and asks to buy a drill? “What kind of hole do you want?” responds the sales assistant. It’s a classic sales and marketing training parable that encapsulates the relationship between buyer and seller. The customer has a problem, and the vendor has the potential to fix it. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It’s relevant because, in order to sell your products or services effectively, you’ve got to understand and match-up two things:
- How customers make decisions, and
- How to make a sale
There’s no rocket science here, but there is a process. The length of time it takes depends on the importance and familiarity of the purchase. Whether you’re looking for a date, buying a car, or investing in new capital equipment, the same principles apply.
Customer Decision-Making Process
- Interest Aroused and Retained – people need to want the product/service enough to go to the effort of buying it. I want a new car.
- Needs Appreciated – the question moves to what the customer specifically needs – something for the family, an executive car or a rugged off-roader?
- Knowledge of product gained/extended the customer seeks information, looks on-line, asks a friend for advice, visits garages, takes a test drive etc.
- Suitability Appreciated – identifying a vehicle that matches the customer’s needs, she considers her options: BMW 7 Series or a Mercedes S class? (We’re optimists!)
- Desire to buy – the customer remains interested, has found a car she wants, and now weighs up the costs. (Yes, she’s picking out the colour and he’s checking the engine!)
- Consideration of price – the customer estimates the difference between the cost of buying new, trade-in, or keeping her current car.
- Value Appreciated if the customer believes the trade-in value, price, extras and after-sales service is the best deal, then, she will buy NOW.
Now let’s match the decision-making process for our car-buying lady, to how to make a sale. (Give car salesmen a break and accept they’re professionals and not stereotypes.)
Steps of the Sale
- First, we PLAN/STRUCTURE the initial approach – all the things we do BEFORE meeting the customer. We invite customers in through advertising, floor layout, having all our models and information ready to hand.
- We prepare the INTRODUCTION, including the reason for our product/service addresses their general requirements, and the benefits for the client. We welcome the customer into our showroom, personally introduce ourselves, and offer assistance.
- Next, we INVESTIGATE our customer’s specific needs, and reflect back that we understand her requirements. Rather than flog any car on the premises, we ask qualifying questions to match the model to the customer.
- We extend her knowledge of our product/service by DEMONSTRATING the way it works and how it can solve her problem. We talk about relevant features and benefits, take a test drive, explain the specifications, optional extras, lead time, etc
- We RECOMMEND a solution that shows we understand her needs, creating the desire to buy. We explain the price so the client considers the value. Having listened carefully, we suggest a specific car, discuss the lead time, price, payment terms and trade-in value.
- Finally, we CLOSE the sale. Yes, we ASK for the sale and gain commitment from the customer.
When we match how we make a sale to the customer decision-making process, we close more sales.
Following the steps of the sale is a bit like learning to drive. Multiple tasks feel unnatural and cumbersome at first, but after a while, it becomes second nature. Once we gain experience and get confident, we all think we’re great drivers! So let yourself become a great sales person and take the steps of the sale out for a test drive.