A sale is lost to a competitor. It happens every day. Have you ever noticed how often the average salesperson, or estimator, seems to assign the blame to the customer? We’ve all heard the standard excuses: “we’re priced too high," “they found a color they prefer somewhere else,” or “the competition must not know what they are getting into." Far too often it seems as if the customer is somehow at fault for making an incorrect decision. I find this thought process to be terribly flawed.
Too often the root cause of this behavior is an attitude of “I know best what my customer needs." A typical salesperson, estimator or installer will spend far too much time talking – a deadly sin. They feel the need to “educate” the customer on everything ranging from the products themselves to the weaknesses of the competition. They’ll advise that they have “the perfect solution” for you. They’ll state that they have had many customers with situations “just like yours." They have an air about them that says “I’m pretty darned smart and you’re lucky to find me today!” This behavior may work some of the time, but not nearly often enough to be considered successful. With this approach they are often doomed from “Hello."
All customer service personnel should have been taught how to qualify a customer. What very few realize is that the customer is busy qualifying them, as well. As a presentation is made, they are forming a perception of not only what is being said, but also how it is being said. They are judging not only the merits of your products and services, but of placing their trust in you. They are asking themselves whether this person truly cares about me and my unique situation. Is he so busy providing answers that he didn’t even hear my questions? What are the chances that he would even recognize me on the street a week from now?
Elite professionals understand that a customer walks into a store, or invites you to their jobsite, asking one question only – “what’s in this for me?” They really don’t care how a product is made or an installation is accomplished. They simply want to know how it will solve their flooring concerns and bring them enjoyment. They don’t care how busy your staff may be. They just want assurance that their order will be delivered as promised. They aren’t overly impressed that your firm may have been in business for many years. They perceive that as history. They just want assurance that the current staff is capable of quality performance. And, believe it or not, they are not always looking for the cheapest price. They are primarily concerned that they receive full value for their investment.
Always remember – it’s never about what you think. It’s always about how the customer feels. She is only concerned about herself. She should be. After all, it’s her money! The pros that understand this will make their presentations customer focused and achieve great success. The rest will be left to wonder why they seem to always be making excuses.