Some businesses base their selling efforts on guesswork and intuition. But those who are the most successful develop in-depth knowledge about customers and tailor their selling efforts to address customers’ needs and goals.
Understanding their needs
Understanding what prospects need, discovering what they want and helping them avoid their fears may increase your closing ratios. One study found that salespeople who sell to the buyer’s needs and wants are three times more likely to close the sale.
The best way to take the guesswork out of selling is to ask customers the right questions and listen carefully to their answers. Giving buyers clearly articulated information in language they understand, when and where they need it is the role of a good salesperson.
Building buyer personas
An effective way to build buyer persona profiles is to interview customers who purchased your product or service. Your interview goal is to trace the decision-making story from beginning to end. Start with questions about the event or problem that motivated the customer to search for a solution.
Knowing what made it urgent to find a solution will be valuable in your future prospecting efforts. Try to find out who participated in the evaluation and decision-making process. The attitudes surrounding their decision may reveal useful insights and prove valuable when dealing with new prospects.
Don’t avoid buyers
Don’t avoid buyers who selected your competitor instead of you. They provide valuable data on where your solution fell short by comparison. Prospects who rejected your proposal may be candid about telling you why.
Pay particular attention if the if the prospect says you were rejected because your product or service was too expensive. Did your “too-expensive” solution contain features the competitor didn’t offer? Or did your offering lack features the prospect required?
Why they buy
Customers buy on the basis of expectation — what they believe your product or service will do for them. Before any sales call, ask yourself what problems you can solve for this prospect.
Here is the thought and action process for problem-solving:
- For every problem, there’s a dissatisfied customer. A business problem always causes dissatisfaction for someone. When you see dissatisfaction, it means you’ve got a problem to fix.
- Don’t be satisfied with fixing only the immediate problem. Make sure there isn’t a systematic problem behind the problem you’re fixing.
- Never try to solve a problem without the right information. Get your information first. Don’t think you know the answer? Then go and find information to support your guess.
- Take on the customer’s problem personally. Powerful things begin to happen when you go beyond merely trying to resolve problems.
- Empower the customer through knowledge. Give customers the knowledge they need to solve their own problems. By involving yourself more deeply in your customer’s business, you may become indispensable.
Adapted from: Buyer Personas, by Adele Revella. She founded the Buyer Persona Institute.