Focus on the customer’s problem with agility, and not rigidity with what you’re selling, Interact with the buyer around his problem with an open mind, not your product, a closed one. Engage with the prospect on why he is entertaining your presence, because it’s not because you are entertaining. Like with a girl on a date, successful sellers know that to make positive progress, best make the discussion about her.

When you focus on your product (or service) you may get discouraged with all the things that are wrong with it, or misled (not encouraged) by all that’s right with it. You get discouraged because you start imagining, ‘He won’t buy our hotel room. It’s old. And management has refused to upgrade it despite my numerous complaints.’; ‘She won’t take up our investment services. She doesn’t know about us because we’re new in town’; ‘They won’t buy from us. They’re mzungu, and mzungus don’t buy from us.’ It is remarkable how the vast majority of salespeople are generally the worst critics of the products they’re selling. And yet, except for a miracle, all products have a limitation.

Pride limits agility

So, anyway, as I was saying, you get misled because you become ego-driven. And, like Kenya Power, it shows. There’s reason why its customers on social media have changed the electricity distribution monopoly’s tag line to Sisi Ndio Tuko (Like it nor not, you’re stuck with us). As for you, you reason, ‘We’re the cheapest in the market, and she’s looking for cheap, so atakuja tu. (She’ll come). Incidentally, Carrefour prides itself for having the lowest prices in the market. Would you go there if the service was lousy? Filled with pride, you also imagine, like Goliath, ‘Of course, they’ll buy. We have the largest network of branches in the country. Our nearest competitor has less than half ours.’ Whether discouraged or misled, either way you lack agility in the customer engagement, make poor judgment and quite likely lose the sale.

Read: Drop your pride, sell to the ‘irrelevant’ too

Focus on common buying concerns

Now when you focus on the customer’s problem, a seismic shift occurs. Besides the fact that your demonstration of empathy enamours you to him, you also get in alignment. You focus on solving a problem, not selling a product. What do I mean? You focus on how your product can solve his problem and not the problem your product has. For example, to the problem, “Being a school, we are unable to make monthly payments as our fees collection is termly”, you don’t dig in your heels with rigidity that it must be monthly. No. With the agility of ChatGPT you respond thus: “It’s no fault of yours that that’s the case and so we are happy to structure the loan to make the payments termly instead of monthly. Now let’s look at…”

Focus on the customer’s problem with agility

Now, whether your rates are the highest in the market, or your turn around time is the slowest, or you will need their grandma’s ID (joke) before accepting the application, is not the issue. Those are the demons you see when you focus on your product. If the termly instalments put a glint in their eye and a signature on the dotted line, you have focused on, solved their problem and closed the sale. Quite likely your problems are not his or he is willing to overlook them because they are not as important to him. You see, as any successful salesperson will tell you, there are no perfect products only perfect prospects.

Focus on the customer’s problem with agility

Another reason why you should focus on the customer problem with agility, and not your product with rigidity, is this. You see your product limitations as objections to overcome. So, to the objection, “Your rooms are old,” you do not resignedly admit, “Yes, they are. I keep telling management to upgrade but they don’t.” No. You know that old does not mean neglected. It just means not modern, trendy. It also means rustic, antique, rare, classical. So, remaining agile, you respond. “Old is gold. And a golden experience is what you will get with this package. Here, let me show you how…’

Focus on the customer problem with agility. Be practical about how your product solves the buyer’s problem. You’ll do your job better. And your job is architecting a solution for an identified potential business, or personal, problem.


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