Salespeople Can't Help Navigate the Customer's Journey without Listening for Directions
“Cheshire Puss… Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat. “I don’t much care where,” said Alice. “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
Like Lewis Carroll’s Alice, many salespeople have the same issue – lack of direction. Most of the time, they have little idea about what lead to a “yes” from their customers. Their company might have a great product with a competitive price, but still, the sales are down. A clear direction in sales (as well as in life) is one of the best things that could happen. In sales, the directions are the “insights” that help to move a prospective customer from one stage to another. But these directions don’t fall from the sky. A salesperson needs to engage customers actively to get hold of these directions. Here are a few basics that could help salespeople acquire these directions early in their sales journey.
Listening and Asking
Listening. It’s the simplest step but the most crucial one, wherein most salespeople fail. The mistake – in the words of Stephen Covey – is that “most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Understanding the correct needs of the buyer is one of the first steps that builds trust in the sales process. Once a salesperson knows what matters most to the prospective customer, it is easy to build the later part of the sales conversations. When the buyer explains an area of concern, he or she should have the salesperson’s undivided attention. The salesperson should observe the emotions behind the words, not interpret or be judgemental. An effective listener can clearly decode signals from a buyer in the initial stages of the sales cycle and can get more clarity on the buyer’s needs. A salesperson should encourage the prospective buyer to share every detail specific to his or her company’s needs. Once the main concern is revealed, it’s time for the salesperson to ask relevant questions that get maximum insights on the requirement. Good questions help a salesperson to engage with the customer in a more meaningful manner. This helps to find points that the customer might have failed to express. With more clarity on buyer’s needs, a salesperson can better craft the story of what he or she sells to suit the buyer. Everything in sales revolves around buyers’ needs, but salespeople should also know how to frame what they sell to suit the buyers’ needs. Empathetic listening builds much-needed trust and respect from the prospective customer.
Customer’s goal and the importance of what is sold
Many times, the salesperson knows the customer requirements but is clueless about what the customer is trying to achieve. The end goal of the customer is something a salesperson needs to know in great detail. A customer’s decision hinges on his or her ability to reach that goal. The relevant data the salesperson collects during the initial stages becomes the basis for understanding the customer’s journey. The main thing here is for the salesperson to concentrate on the buyer’s needs. It’s not the range of solutions; it’s the customer’s needs that should be center stage. It’s a known fact that salespeople can’t build customer journeys; customers create them. And the best part of salespeople’s roles is that they can help with the navigation of the customers’ journeys.
“No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” - Theodore Roosevelt
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