An occupational hazard of many business owners and corporate decision makers is indecision. It takes guts to start a business. But after the business is up and running, indecision can set in. The guts might be there, but the gut reaction is missing. In other words, good instincts can be muddled by indecision, and indecision whittles away confidence. When that happens, no matter who you are, you get stuck.
Nowadays, customers have access to more information than ever. An increase in choices can be a good thing. It can also make an indecisive customer that much more decisively challenged. In this week's post, I want to share best practices we have discovered through our research to help your customers be more confident in their purchasing decisions.
Off the Rocky Road
You know how it is: So many flavors to choose from at the ice cream shop and most of them sound like too much of a commitment. You don’t want to leave your customer regretting that they went for goat cheese cashew caramel, when what they really wanted was the wasabi sorbet.
Indecision, lack of confidence and too many “flavors” to choose from are problems that befall business owners and business decision makers all the time. But it’s amid that very atmosphere of indecision that a good sales professional can step in and make all the difference. Forget being the eyes and ears; be your client’s gut reaction. Help them to raise their confidence level in order to make the right choices when there are too many choices in front of them.
Be the Change They Want to Make
It’s not just the customer’s confidence you need to keep in mind as you go through your presentation, it’s your own as well. If you’re not confident, your customer will sense it, whether she or he is feeling confident at that moment or not. The confidence that first got you into the world of sales is the same confidence that can win you prospective customers and help retain your existing clients. High confidence will aid you in discerning the best choices for your customers. But confidence must come from a genuine source. It should never be fake or transparent. HR, training, and sales departments should determine what type of training they should provide and tie the newly acquired skills to the desired performance outcomes. Are there any crucial skills, attitudes, and behaviors the sales reps should cultivate early on? Consider dividing the training process into specific segments, with each focusing on sales training, product training, or technical training.
“Great,” you may be saying, while telling yourself you really are enjoying that bowl of prune basil avocado you just paid too much for at the trendy artisan ice cream shop, “but just how do I do that?” The answer is elegantly simple. Start with a strong foundation of knowing your customer: The more you understand
their needs, their products, and the best available solutions to fit their needs, the more confident you will be in your recommendations to them.
It’s knowing the customer’s likes, dislikes, maybe even their counterproductive tendencies when it comes to decision-making that will build the bricks of the path down which you’ll guide them. Because customers don’t always do things in their own best interest, you, the sales professional, can be your client’s best interest. But before you go recommending the blueberry dark-chocolate swirl, the client must trust you and view you as a valuable resource. Again, the source for actualizing the client’s trust is your own confidence.
Here are some methods for building your customers’ confidence, demonstrating to them that you are well-equipped and self-possessed enough to solve their decision-making dilemmas, and showing them exactly how your products or services are value-adding to their growth as a business:
- Again—I can’t stress this enough!—discover your clients’ needs, and familiarize yourself with their problems and challenges.
- Ask the right questions, such as, “What is it you’d like to achieve?” “What do you want to improve upon?” and “What concerns do you have?” Yes-or-no questions don’t work well in the sales business. Make your questions open-ended and be the good listener you were born to be. This allows customers to talk. The more they talk and the more actively you listen, the more knowledge you gain about who they are and what they want and need. Show empathy for the clients; let them know that you understand their frustration and problems and that you’re committed to finding a solution.
- Once you’ve built a solid understanding of the customer’s needs, review their problems and align your products or services to meet those needs. Speak their language: Use your customers’ terminology when you prepare your presentation.
- Be persuasive as you present, clearly and truthfully explaining to customers why your products or services will be a value-add for their business. Use examples your customer shared with you during earlier meetings; based on this, position your products or services in such a way that it becomes clear to the client that you’re offering them a viable solution—the best decision they can make!
- How you come off to your clients is a value-add for you. Be personable and truthful. Don’t make your company the center of attention. Use less “I” and “we,” more “you” and “yours”; at the same time, don’t hide your experience and credentials. Instead, make it clear to the client that you have X amount of satisfied customers and years of experience to back you up.
The flavor of the month is, build up your customer’s confidence by conveying to them that you’ve got the knowhow to guide them in the right direction—you’re never going to recommend they choose the double scoop of maple jalapeno with extra garlic shavings, but neither will you offer them the vanilla they can get anywhere. Maybe something with a little risk and a lot of flavor. Salted caramel, perhaps?