Here’s how to bridge the gap between what customers say and what they mean

It is the seller’s job to remove the jagged edges in communication, creating a warmer relationship with the buyer and making the sale easier.

Communication is a complicated thing. Even when you correctly hear what the other person said, it may not be what they meant. When a customer asks for a drill, the obvious response is to sell him one. But is it a drill he wants? Not necessarily, unless it’s intended as a gift. (I can’t imagine for whom, but stranger things happen). What he wants are the holes the drill makes. Yet, this is not exactly true. What he really wants is to hang something on the wall, say, a picture. That is really what he meant to say-“I want to hang pictures.”

Read: How to avoid communication breakdown while selling

His problem was hanging a picture but he came and asked you for a drill. And why? A self-prognosis and therefore diagnosis of what he thinks is the obvious. Yet, if he said that he wants to hang pictures on the wall, and how can you help?, you could have offered alternatives including non-intrusive stick-on hooks. And this is the dilemma of the salesperson. To decipher what the customer actually means. In selling, ensuring that you are on the same page with the buyer is the foundation of success. Is it easy? Certainly not! Can it be done? Absolutely, yes. Here’s four ways how?

Common sense

If this supermarket has ordered a system (say a server), it is because the business needs demand it. It follows therefore that chances are that their competition requires it too as the businesses operate in the same environment. Therefore, when the competition says “we want to buy a server” or you call them to interest them in your server, zeroing in on how it will solve their problem positions you favorably in the buyers mind and makes the communication smoother.

Research

Customers buy products to solve a problem and not because they like the product, much as that is what they will say. “I like the drill” he’ll say. Yet what he likes are the holes it makes or more accurately, the pictures he hangs on the walls, held in place by nails in the holes. Researching into why the customer buys the product or service quickly puts you on the same page as the buyer. For instance, by law, architects, doctors, lawyers and professionals that earn fees, are required to have professional indemnity insurance. With this knowledge in place your sale is much more focused on and shortened than if you didn’t know this.

Read: Research and explore to find out your buyer’s hidden need

Observation

When the lady says she’s looking for a pair of sunglasses, it is the wise hawker who, observing her dressing, tells her to “buy this pair because it complements the colour of your skin (or dress)”. The unwise one will say, “Miwani mia mbili” (two hundred shillings for the pair). Observation is the reason why the stall owner will invite you in with ‘Karibu jeans” or “Karibu open shoes” because you are most probably in a pair jeans or open shoes at the time. Note that he could be selling other stuff but he immediately zeroes in what will put you both on the same page.

Read: To get his attention, make the opening about buyer

Questions

This last one is the bane of many lost sales. Salespeople, in a bid to rush to the close, want to tell, not explore. Don’t just sell the drill, politely ask what it’s needed for. Don’t just apologize to the angry customer for the third time, who is berating you over the third ATM card that’s inexplicably gotten spoilt . Explore through questions where she stores it. “Right here. Together with my cell phone and other cards.” That revelation, offers the opportunity to solve the problem by educating her that the magnetic strip of the card is susceptible to getting spoilt when exposed to other magnetic strips and possibly cell phone transmissions. Questions, common sense, research and observation quickly remove the jagged edges in communication, creating a warmer relationship with the buyer and making the sale easier.

Read: Remove friction from the purchase experience


If you would like to have your sales team sell more, we can help. In order for us to do so we propose a free consultation meeting or a call. If in agreement please complete the form below and we will get in touch after receiving your details, none of which will be public. Thank you.

Views – 383

About Author

Related posts

Avoid high pressure selling: Use this 10:80:10 doctor’s prescription

To avoid high pressure selling, salespeople should take a page from the playbook of doctors when it comes to engaging with customers. Think back to your last visit to a doctor. As a percentage of the duration you took, what would you give for how long he took to prescribe? Better still, split the engagement

Read More

3 Reasons for sales resistance and what you can do to overcome it

Embrace resistance from prospects as a norm in selling. It is the rare prospect who opens his arms wide to be sold to. Even when wearing the prospect’s hat, a salesperson acts in that precise fashion-he resists. Examples of sales resistance include the customer avoiding you, or declining your request for appointment. It can also be

Read More

How to handle an angry customer if you are a salesperson

“If they are not there by the time I arrive, cancel the contract!” So fumed the Operations Director of the shipping line that was also this travel agent’s largest client. The salesperson knew the consequences of losing this contract. He’d lose his job too. (A (non) fun fact. If you are a salesperson, there are

Read More
Stay ahead in a rapidly changing world with Lend Me Your Ears. It’s Free! Most sales newsletters offer tips on “What” to do. But, rarely do they provide insight on exactly “How” to do it. Without the “How” newsletters are a waste of time.