My wife and I were looking to upgrade our pontoon boat for the family. With children and grandchildren, a pontoon is the perfect boat for some weekend fun and relaxation. When shopping, I always learn valuable lessons about sales and the sales process.
Source: Jeff Schmidt, RAB
At the first boat store, Tom, the salesperson, greeted us at the door and asked how he could help. We explained we were looking at pontoons. Tom got excited and took us immediately around the corner where a poster showed the technical specifications of the pontoons he sells. “Our boats are built for speed and performance; you can get them going about 70-100 mph and you can turn them at 60 mph. None of this was important to me, and knowing my zest of adventure, the thought of having a boat capable of doing that kind of speed was horrifying for my wife.
Dan was the owner of the marina we went to next. Dan greeted us at the door and welcomed us to his store. We shared we had just started the process of looking for a pontoon boat. Dan said, “great, I’m happy to help,”
And then it happened…
Instead of launching into a sales pitch about performance, jet-prop drag, speed or anything else, Dan looked at us, and said, “Tell me why you are thinking about a pontoon, and what you plan to do with it?” Instantly we felt comfortable. Dan was asking questions – not selling – and he was trying to understand our needs BEFORE using his vast knowledge to make a recommendation.
Admittedly, when you’re excited about a product or service you offer, it’s sometimes hard to settle down and listen to your customers. We recommend no matter what you’re selling that you first do a Customer Needs Analysis. Steve Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, suggests you start with the end in mind.
What is your prospect trying to accomplish?
Why are they considering advertising?
How will they determine if their plan is successful?
These are just a few of the key questions required before making a solid recommendation. Your clients are looking for advice, help and information. They do not want to be pitched.
My wife and I walked out of the marina with the keys to a new boat. So much for just starting to look. The reason we did is because the owner took the time to care and understand why we wanted to buy before he suggested what we should buy.
A Customer Needs Analysis is the tool that helps you identify why and what your prospects are trying to accomplish so you can be prepared to use your expertise to make a recommendation – and a sale.
Jeff Schmidt is the SVP of Professional Development. You can reach him at Jeff.Schmidt@RAB.com. You can also connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.