Used where the sales representative has a customer interaction in a non-business environment (i. e. A social dinner with spouses).
To develop background information on the customer that can be used in subsequent sales calls.
1. The customer generally will set the tone for the business content of the social conversation. If the customer decides that he wants absolutely no discussion about business that means there will be no discussion of organizational needs. The number one area in terms of probing would be personal needs and secondarily, depending on customer initiation, job needs.
2. A strategy of open questions should be used in this situation. In examining personal needs, questions should be used in the following areas:
a. Does the customer have any major goals?
b. Is the customer happy in his present job?
c. Does the customer feel that his job offers growth potential?
d. What are some of the customer’s outside interests?
e. What about the customer’s family? Is there anything unusual in his present personal situation?
3. Delving into the customers job needs, questions should be asked in the following areas:
a. Does the customer have confidence in his management?
b. How does the customer feel about his particular market in terms of growth potential?
c. How does the customer feel about his own company?
d. What is the biggest obstacle in the company’s way to achieving a greater market share?
e. Does the customer have adequate staff to do his job?
f. How does the customer see his job? As a resource allocator, price buyer? Where is he coming from?
g. Does his company give him adequate support from the various other functions? If he decides to take a different approach to a problem, how hard is it to sell his management?
4. By delving into the areas of personal and job needs and avoiding discussions of organizational needs, the customer will leave the interaction with the feeling that business was not discussed and the sales rep will leave with much valuable information in terms of basic job needs to be satisfied in the next call. Extensive use should be made of open questions and reinforcement techniques, using closed questions only as a means of changing the subject.
Available Proof Sources:
In a social selling situation proof sources should not be generally required. If they are, it normally deals with organizational needs and sometimes is best handled by telling the customer, “Let’s wait until we get together for our next sales call. "
Closing Commitments to Request:
1. A summary of reinforcement statements should still be made. A summary can be made something on the line of, “Mr. Customer, I am really glad we have this opportunity to talk. I feel much better about our relationship because. . . "
2. The only commitment to request should be an opportunity to discuss the particular subject areas at the next sales call.
Dr. Rick Johnson (email@example.com) is the founder of CEO Strategist LLC. an experienced based firm specializing in leadership for wholesale distribution. CEO Strategist LLC. works in an advisory capacity with company executives in board representation, executive coaching, team coaching and education and training to make the changes necessary to create or maintain competitive advantage. You can contact them by calling 352-750-0868, or visit http://www.ceostrategist.com for more information.
Rick received an MBA from Keller Graduate School in Chicago, Illinois and a Bachelor's degree in Operations Management from Capital University, Columbus Ohio. Rick recently completed his dissertation on Strategic Leadership and received his Ph. D. He’s also a published book author with four titles to his credit: “The Toolkit for Improved Business Performance in Distribution, " the NWFA & NAFCD “Roadmap", Lone Wolf-Lead Wolf—The Evolution of Sales" and a fiction novel “Shattered Innocence. " Rick’s next book due in November is titled; Lone Wolf – LEad Wolf The Evolution of Leadership