You will find six different definitions for the word “selling" if you look the word up in the dictionary. Six. However, not one of them will give you the real meaning of the word you need if you really want to maximize your own or your staff’s sales efforts.
So what is selling?
Selling is problem solving through the fulfilling of someone’s needs.
No mater what product or service you are selling, your clients and customers come to you hoping you can solve their problem. Of course they don’t always see it that way themselves, and, all too often, you or your staff fail to recognize it either.
If you really want to totally understand the selling process, one of the best ways to do this is to look at it from the buyer’s perspective. What problem (need) are they expecting you to solve? Where does it originate? And what is the main motivating factors driving that particular buyer’s need?
To do this it would help to have at least a basic understanding of Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs": Self-Actualization, Esteem, Love, Safety and Physiological. Maslow writes that all human behavior is motivated by unsatisfied needs that fall into one of these general categories. Therefore, buying is motivated by a need based on one of the above elements of Maslow’s Hierarchy.
For our purposes we can group most, if not all, of your clients needs and Maslow’s Hierarchy into two different categories:
Physiological Needs - Basic needs such as air, water, food, sleep, etc. For the most part these are needs that one cannot live without.
Psychological Needs - Love, esteem, self-recognition, recognition by others, acceptance.
Think about the products you sell and which of Maslow’s categories is motivating the need for your product.
For an in-depth understanding I suggest you Google Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs" and read more. The theory is not all that complicated and should be “a must read" for anyone making a living from selling.
Selling Benefits not Features.
Okay, so now that you understand that your customer has needs, you have to know how to satisfy them. You satisfy their needs (solve their problems) by giving (selling) them the “benefits" of your product that go directly to solving their problems, not by trying to sell them “features" that have little or no value according to your client’s needs.
For example, if you are selling automobiles, and your prospect is a young married couple with rug-rats in tow, you probably don’t want to be showing them all the fancy features of that really sleek, 2-door, 2-seater sports car. This feature-ridden beauty may mean a nice fat commission to you if you can get them to go for it. But it probably has zero benefits to the couple if their needs are for a family sedan or mini-van to haul the family around and drive the neighborhood kids to school when it is their week for the car-pool.
Frequently, we see sales people trying to sell something to their customers because if fills more needs of the salesman than the customer. Bigger commission, old merchandise that needs to be moved, doesn’t have the right product or any other number of reasons will motivate a salesperson to try to sell something that fails to solve the problem the customer was hoping to solve. This, all too often, ends up with a dissatisfied customer.
The next time you wait on a customer, think of yourself as a problem solver. Try solving their problems by matching their needs to the product with the best features that give real benefits toward filling their needs. Solve your customer’s problems, and it becomes a win/win for both of you.
Remember this and you will close more sales.
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Floyd Snyder is the founder and former owner of Executive Advertising, Camera Ready Art and Strictly Business Magazine. Currently he is the owner of Strictly Business Magazine at http://www.sbmag.org , TraderAide.com at http://www.traderaide.com/ and FrameHouseGallery.com at http://framehousegallery.com/ .
Floyd has an extensive background in sales including front line experience and has served as a marketing consultant to small business, specializing in small business start-ups with an emphasis in sales. Check this source for more articles on marketing or visit Strictly Business Magazine.