How do you determine what the customer wants, if he himself doesn’t? Or, doesn’t want to divulge it? Explore.

To begin with, if only there was a list of customer wants. (Sigh!). Alas! contrary to popular belief, customers don’t know what they want. So that list would be constantly evolving. A seller who takes this default setting is more successful than one that doesn’t. Yes, a customer will come and confidently state, “I want this solar power paneling. My neighbour has it, and it works for him.” The inexperienced seller (thinking targets) proceeds to sell it. That’s until when installing the panel he realizes that the wiring in the houses is different. Now who do you suppose the takes the blame? The buyer who was adamant about the purchase? Wrong. The buyer will blatantly blame the seller. And rightly so. Because all the seller had to do was explore.

Techniques in identifying customers’ needs and wants

How do you explore? The sales lady selling property asks the prospect that has walked in. “What are you looking for?” He says, “I’m not sure but when I see it, I’ll know.” Unfazed, she proceeds: “Let me show you our properties in your chosen area, and we see if there’s anything you’d like. Is that ok?” He agrees. The progressive saleslady proceeds to do so starting with the least popular, by other customer feedback and visual assessment of the prospect, to the Wow! project. All this time she gauges the prospect’s waning or growing interest, by studying his body language and what he says. She probes with questions like, “What do you think about this project?” Finally, at the one where he is visibly excited she asks, “What do you like about this one?”

How to determine what the customer wants

Example: How to determine what the customer wants

Or, take the case of the mobile ‘phone seller. The walk-in prospect is vague about his budget. So, the seller takes her straight to the display rack with the high-end ‘phones. She notices the prospect displaying discomfort. This is way past his league. Still, not to embarrass him she lets him experience the phone. “Here. What do you think?” The prospect points out a few features he likes and asks whether they have something in a lower range.

The progressive seller moves to a different display rack, possibly two levels lower. She removes and hands over a ‘phone from it, to the buyer. She is careful to point out similar features to the other high-end one while pointing out the shortcomings and asks, “What do you think?” Remaining observant, she notices the buyer, who by now has noticed what is happening, looking at a different display rack. The seller makes a beeline for it, invites the seller to “Check out this ‘phone.” The buyer’s confidence visibly returns. Jackpot!

Importance of understanding customer needs and wants

Notice in the examples shared, that the seller remains respectful throughout. She is not condescending at all. This is key when exploring. Further, sometimes the customer does know he wants and a few choice questions can validate this. In such cases, respect his intelligence and time, and just sell him what he wants.

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