Let Customers Sell Themselves

By Steve Atlas

Do you know what your customers really want and need from you? Well, the best way to find out is to get out of the trenches and look at the problem from their perspective. How do you do that? Todd Youngblood, managing partner in the Atlanta, Georgia-based YPS Group, suggests asking good open-ended questions:

Why are you talking to me? You obviously have a need or problem you want solved.

How do you think I might be able to help you? In a perfect world, what would you like to see me deliver? Who else are you talking to about solving this problem and why? Who are my competitors?

Knowing who your competitors are can help you figure out what benefits and features they may offer and what you need to offer in return, Youngblood says. Also, learn how your potential clients make decisions. What are their decision criteria? What is the relative importance of each? Every customer uses a different decision process. Who will be involved in deciding whether to purchase from you or a competitor? What other criteria might be important to these additional decision makers?

Do you know what your customers do with your product or service after buying it? Who will use it and how will they apply it? What benefit will they get? Interviewing and drawing out potential clients helps them to see your product or service as the solution to their problem, Youngblood points out. For example, if you are selling industrial pumps, when you deliver a pump, who will pick it up from the loading dock and deliver it to the end user? Perhaps for an additional $100, you can put wheels under the product, making it easier to transport to the department that will use it.

Todd Youngblood helps sales professionals develop and improve their consultative selling and interpersonal skills. For more information, call 770/514-1189 or email todd@ypsgroup.com.

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