Mind-Reading - For Salespeople

Robert Seviour

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Would you find it easier to get a sale if you could read your customer's mind?

Assuming you said yes, here's how to do it. Ask the right questions and listen carefully to the answers, your customer will tell you everything you want to know. Easy, eh?

Well it sounds easy, but it takes self-discipline to do it right. Let's start with the questions to ask.

The first type is what are known as ‘open’ questions, meaning that they usually produce informative answers of some length - as opposed to ‘closed’ questions which do the opposite.

Some examples; ‘What are the reasons that you are thinking of upgrading your computer?’ ‘What problems did you have with the old one?’ ‘What tasks do you use your computer for?'

Another question word which is ideal to use for open questions is ‘how’.

'How do you tackle that problem at the moment?', ‘How are the high gas prices affecting your industry?'

Those were all open questions. I think you'll agree that with appropriate open questions, the information the customer reveals will help you make your presentation more focused on what the customer cares about.

'Closed’ questions have their uses, too.

'Would this product give you the features you need?', ‘Is 50 pages per minute fast enough for your application?', ‘Is Tuesday morning a good time to call you?'

These questions get specific items of information or confirmation that what you think the customer means is correct.

Just be careful that you don't use closed questions where an open one would produce a better result. Here's a classic mis-use of a closed question.

'Can I help you with anything?’ How many thousands of times do salespeople say that every day? What response does it usually get? ‘No thanks, I'm just looking’.

That's a useless answer, and now the customer may be less likely to tell you what he really wants, because he now feels a bit pressured. You can improve on this very simply; ‘Good morning sir, my name is XXXXX, if you need any help, just let me know. By the way, we've got a special on ZZZZZ at the moment’.

Develop a set of good, relevant open and closed questions to use when you are talking with customers. After a while, you will find that you can frequently ask more or less the same ones with every customer. It helps because you then don't have to think so hard about what you are going to ask next. Instead you can concentrate on listening carefully to the customer's answers.

That part is critical, of course. It's little use to get a flow of good information coming from the customer . . . and then ignore it. I call this ‘Professional Listening', you'll find some suggestions on how to do it if you click the link below.

Now that the customer has revealed what their reasons are for being interested in your product or service, you can respond so accurately they may tell you,

'You've read my mind'

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Robert Seviour learned sales skills the hard way, by making a lot of mistakes - you don't have to. For more hints on professional selling, visit http://www.seviourbooks.com


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