If you are in any type of sales role – direct selling, retail, B2B, etc., this blog will help you become better at understanding what informs your customers or clients to make a buying decision in your favor. It should also enlighten those that don’t understand why they can’t even “sell” a free sample.
I constantly encounter low to no awareness on the part of most sales people to understand prospective customer’s wants or needs. Recently in Hawaii, when I was looking for a pair of flip-flops, the best the “sales” clerk, I use that term reluctantly, could do, was to ask me if I wanted her to check for my size in the stock room. She could have significantly improved the chance of making a sale by asking me a few simple discovery questions to uncover what was going to inform or inspire my buying decision. These questions could have related to my preference of style, material – e.g. synthetic or natural fabric or my price range. Instead she just gave me a slightly bewildered smile and walked away. So did I.
What about you – do you know why current customers keep doing business with you or why prospective customers would want to choose your products or services?
Here are some basic buying motivators you must seek to uncover if you want to succeed in sales.
Customers deal with a provider because they:

  1. want to fulfill their needs, wants or desires (not yours! It’s not about you until you make it about them.)
  2. seek someone to provide a product or solution that creates peace of mind and a sense of gain
  3. want to reduce or eliminate the potential for risk or problems
  4. want to deal with someone with expertise that can offer valuable insights and perspective so they can make an informed decision
  5. want the security of making a good decision
  6. want to deal with a reputable company
  7. want to deal with a reputable salesperson
  8. want to know you/your company is referred and endorsed by others
  9. feel safe and secure dealing with the sales person
  10. want their ego stroked (Yes, some customers want to be doted over)
  11. want to avoid making a mistake

Many customers make buying decisions for reasons other than price. They often buy for practical or rational reasons, as well as for psychological or emotional reasons such as ego, prestige or affinity with certain socio-economic groups. However, (KEY POINT don’t miss it), price often becomes the deciding factor because the sales person did such a poor job of understanding the customers’ requirements that they see no value in paying regular price, let alone a premium price. Read this again if you are losing sales – customers want value!
A common mistake made by sales people is to try and “sell” to their customers rather than engage them in the process of leading them to an informed buying decision. Our role as professional sales people is to provide our customers with information, perspective and recommendations, not to force someone to an outcome we desire. It is critical that we do not lose sight who our services or products must satisfy – the customer!
Too many sales people believe that a customer is making a buying decision purely on a logical or rational basis. This is especially true in sales of technical services and products. Research is revealing what many of us have known for a long time, most customers make decisions based on emotions, perceived value and likability of the sales person. These reasons are not as easy to recognize, and sometimes do not make sense to the sales person. I would encourage the reader to consider the topic of emotional intelligence as it relates to picking up on the finer points and messages that customers provide. If you can read their body language and key non-verbal clues you will make more sales. See my November blog for more information on this topic. https://www.kison.com//2012/11/
Try to apply the concepts I have presented here on your next sales call, presentation or cold call. You will sell more when you know what the customer wants or needs and figure out how you can provide it in a way that is superior to your competitor. Keep it simple. Selling does not have to be complicated!

Effectively engage your customer or prospect so you can guide them to an informed buying decision.