In Lesson 1, we went over the importance of acting as an assistant buyer for your customer. You can help your customers buy only after understanding what they want and their motivations for wanting it. The only way to know what they want is to ask. Your customers will open up if you build rapport, ask the right questions and listen actively.
If this sounds foreign to you, you may want to review Lesson 1 again by clicking here.
Now that you’ve got some great information about your prospective customer concerning what they want, the next thing you want to do is to make sure you thoroughly understand your products and/or services. You need to know all the features and be able to translate them into benefits because the next step is to … (drums start rolling)
(drums abruptly stop) … before I tell you what the next step is, we should really discuss the difference between features and benefits and why you want to sell using benefits. A feature is a characteristic about your product or service. A benefit describes how these characteristics make people’s lives better.
Here are two examples:Product being sold: Car Feature: 35 mpg/city Benefit: Save money on gas and save time on refills so you can pay for that vacation you’ve wanted to take. Product being sold: Bachelor Feature: Occupation – Doctor Benefit: Financial security so you don’t have to worry about not having enough money for the rent for as long as you both shall live.
For my own products and services, I use a method from this excellent post on extracting true benefits from features.
Anyway, where were we? Oh yea, the next step after finding out what your customer truly wants is … (drums roll again and then dramatically stops as you read the answer)
Compare What You are Selling to What Your Customer Wants to Buy
If there is a good match, your work is halfway done. If what you are selling doesn’t match the prospect’s needs, END the sales process and refer them to someone who has what they’re looking for. Remember you are still the assistant buyer. Even if your products and services might not help them, I highly recommend going above and beyond and helping them find a way to meet their needs and wants. The famous author, salesman and motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, was on to something when he said “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”
I believe that’s great advice and try to live by that suggestion but what if I am a bachelor looking to “sell” myself to eligible women? I don’t really want to spend my time referring women to other more suitable guys. I don’t care if I am a good fit or not.
To avoid this undesirable situation, you have two choices:
Define your ideal customer based on your current features/benefits or create better products or services that cater to the needs of your target customer
To continue with the bachelor analogy, your chances for success increases dramatically if you first decide what type of woman would find the benefits you have to offer attractive. Are you good looking (benefit = beautiful babies or the envy of her friends), make a lot of money (benefit = financial stability) or caring (benefit = being loved and cared for)? Once you know your ideal customer, then you just need to target them and make them see the benefits you have to offer.
If you find that you are not a good match for a certain type of prospect but you still want to target them, develop better products or services with features and benefits that appeal to your target group. For someone having a hard time getting the job they want or a job with a company they want to work for, it may mean taking classes or other jobs to upgrade their skills or networking to make themselves more appealing to the hiring manager.
The goal is to match what the buyer wants to buy with what you have to sell.
Please note that the customer doesn’t always know everything about the products or services they come across and unfortunately there are people who exploit this lack of information by exaggerating or misrepresenting the benefits of their products to make the sale. My advice to you is NEVER DO THIS!! Always be honest because the most precious commodity to a salesperson is trust. Once your reputation is tainted as being untrustworthy, it will be much harder to build rapport and get past the first step in Lesson 1, which is to drill deep into what the prospect really wants.
In the next lesson, we’re going to discuss how people make the decision to buy and how you can increase your chances of closing the sale.
Robert Chen is the founder of Embrace Possibility and author of The Dreams to Reality Fieldbook. He helps people who feel stuck move forward by guiding them to see other possibilities for their lives. He specializes in working with high performers get to the next level. If you're going through a tough time right now, check out Robert's article on How to Feel Better Right Away and if you're having trouble getting what you want out of life, check out How to Always Achieve Your Goals.