By Tom Jennings, WFCA Vice President, Professional Development
A sale is lost to a competitor. It happens every day. Have you ever noticed how often the average salesperson, or estimator, seems to assign the blame to the customer? We’ve all heard the standard excuses: “We’re priced too high,” “They found a color they prefer somewhere else,” or, “The competition must not know what they are getting into.” Often, it seems as if the customer is somehow at fault for deciding to not purchase from your company. I find this thought process to be terribly flawed.
Frequently, the root cause of this behavior is an attitude of, “I know best what my customer needs.” A typical salesperson, estimator or installer spends far too much time talking – a deadly sin. They feel the need to educate the customer on everything ranging from the products themselves to the weaknesses of the competition. They’ll advise that they have “the perfect solution” for the customer. They’ll state they have had many customers with similar situations. They have an air about them that says, “I’m pretty darned smart and you’re lucky to find me today!” This behavior may work some of the time, but not nearly often enough to be considered successful. With this approach they are often doomed from the first hello.
Often, it seems as if the customer is somehow at fault for deciding to not purchase from your company. I find this thought process to be terribly flawed.
All customer service personnel should be taught how to qualify a customer. What very few realize is that the customer is busy qualifying them as well. As a presentation is made, they are forming a perception of not only what is being said, but also how it is being said. They are judging not only the merits of your products and services, but of placing their trust in you. They are asking themselves whether this person truly cares about me and my unique situation. Is the salesperson so busy providing answers that they didn’t even hear my questions? What are the chances they’d recognize me on the street next week?
Elite professionals understand that when a customer walks into a store, or invites you to their jobsite, they have only one question – what’s in this for me? They really don’t care how a product is made or an installation is accomplished. They simply want to know how it will solve their flooring concerns and bring them enjoyment. They don’t care how busy your staff may be. They just want assurance their order will be delivered as promised. They aren’t overly impressed that your firm may have been in business for many years. They perceive that as history. Believe it or not, they are not always looking for the cheapest price. They are primarily concerned with receiving full value for their investment.
Always remember it’s never about what you think, rather, it’s about how the customer feels. She is only concerned about herself, as she should be. After all, it’s her money! The pros who understand the importance of customer-focused presentations will achieve great success. The rest will be left to wonder why they seem to always be making excuses.
Tom Jennings, WFCA Vice President, Professional Development