Let’s set the scene. You walk into a store to check out your options on different products available. Let’s say you’re buying flooring for your home. A salesman is sitting behind a counter typing away on his computer, so you approach him with a smile on your face. You wait patiently while he finishes what he’s working on. Finally, he looks up and asks you what you need. You tell him you’re looking to replace the flooring in your kitchen that has a wear mark in the heaviest traffic area. Also, you’re concerned about finding the right one because when your dishwasher overflowed last month, you can see bulging in the laminate. You don’t want to have the possible tripping hazard or the potential mold that might be growing there because your young children play there all the time. Looking bored, the salesman slowly stands and asks you to follow him. He takes you to the showroom and points at a couple displays. “You can pick from those two displays.” He stands there awkwardly and impatiently while you browse through the samples. Each of your questions earn you a one- or two-word answer, or even just a head nod. You find one you like and decide to go with it, even though you’re not quite sure if it’s right for you.
This type of “selling” is deemed as the “Order Taker” method. While the salesman may have been very knowledgeable on his product and was able to direct the customer to a good product, he was certainly not very engaging or personable. He didn’t explain “why” the displays he chose were the best choice, or even direct the buyer to look at other options to compare and prove that this was indeed the best choice. While the sale was quick and the customer placed an order, they probably aren’t going to be raving about the experience with their friends or even plan on returning with future needs. While this method may give a person what they needed, they were probably underwhelmed and felt no connection to the salesman or the store.
Now consider this scenario. You walk into a store with the same situation, explain why you’re looking for flooring, and ask to see different options. This time, the salesman jumped up from his computer to greet you with a smile. While you explained your situation, he nodded his head and listened to everything you were saying. Instead of just taking you to a display, he begins to ask questions so he can learn more about you and your needs. He asks you questions like:
- Are you after a certain product?
- Do you have a specific look or design in mind?
- How important is color to you?
- What other problems do you currently face that you wish to possible resolve?
- What design layout did you have in mind?
This type of selling, and my personal favorite, is called the “Influencer” method. Influencers are passionate about engaging the customer in conversation to learn about their problems, needs and wants. After collecting all the information needed, they are able to narrow the criterium of products best suited to your needs. From there, he can show you different options that check off a variety of features and explain why each one would work for you. He’s now shown you that he is the expert in this field, cares about what you requested, showed you features you didn’t know would benefit you and has started forming a trusting relationship with you. As you can imagine, this technique usually results in higher closing success, long-term relationships, referral business and higher profits. I can’t think of a better time to improve upon our sales approach than right now. Today’s market and consumer habits are changing all the time, but they all want someone to care and they all want to purchase the best product for them.
– Trevor Parvinen