We’ve all heard the rule of listening to what the customer has to say, and there isn’t a salesperson who thinks they’re not listening to the customer. The reality, however, is quite the opposite. I find time and time again when working with salespeople in a number of industries that not listening is a huge problem.
Too many salespeople believe that because they know the products they represent far better than the customer, they know exactly what the customer will see as real value. Yes, as an agent you will have a general indication of what a typical client wants. However, when it comes to interacting with a specific customer, you cannot rely on a “general indication” of value.
The only way to know what a customer will value is to ask them and have them say what they are looking for. It sounds simple enough, yet so many sellers don’t do it.
If you don’t believe what I’m saying, let me tell you about the situation my wife found herself in when buying a car. The car she was looking at was an SUV with all the conveniences people expect when looking for an SUV (4WD, ability to handle tough winter driving, etc.). The salesman kept pressuring my wife about the value of these SUV features. The problem was that my wife wasn’t particularly interested in these features. Yes, we wanted an SUV, but my wife – the main driver of the vehicle – was looking for an amazing sound system and heated, comfortable seats.
I can’t tell you how many salespeople lost the sale because they didn’t understand my wife’s value expectations of the car. We could have easily been sold on an SUV other than the one we bought, had the salesperson listened and set aside his preconceived notions of what a “typical SUV buyer” might be most interested in.
I’m sharing this example so you can see that it’s not just about “understanding” this dynamic; it’s about learning from it and changing the way you interact with customers. The learning curve is simple: listen to what the customer is saying. They will tell you what their needs are when you ask them the right questions. This not only means asking the right questions, but also hearing what the customer is telling you and then asking them a follow-up question on what they just told you. Asking the follow-up question is key because the vast majority of the time the customer will share much better information with you when you show interest and engagement in what they are telling you.
Once one person feels the other person is really listening, it’s natural for the quality of the conversation to become more real and engaging. By asking the follow-up questions, the salesperson will learn what the customer’s expectation of value is. The seller can then finally work to close the sale according to the customer’s expectations. When that happens, they’ll do more than just close the sale. Chances are the sale will close with a higher profit because the customer sees more value in what they are buying.