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Sales Training - Customer Needs

By Steven J. Schmidt

In the business world, salespeople need to understand their customers as much as possible to increase their chances of making a sale. Every customer always has some kind of need. Your job as the sales professional is to find out what those needs are.

Sometimes, you will get customers who will tell you what their needs are. Those type of sales just "fall in your lap." You don't have to do much work for those sales.

Unfortunately, that won't happen all the time, and you cannot count on those sales to make your paycheck. As part of your sales training, you have to find out what customers need in order to make a recommendation to them. People do not like when sales reps just try to sell them. It sounds as if they're not genuine; they're just trying to make money; and that they do not have the customer's best interest in mind.

Suppose you're working for a company where you power wash homes and wash windows, and of course you're the sales consultant. By the way, a sales consultant is a synonym for sales rep or sales professional. It just sounds more prestigious, and probably makes all of you salespeople feel very important. No, I'm just joking, you are all important, especially if you're reading this!

All kidding aside and back to the sales training, let's say you're talking to a home owner and you probe, "Have you had your house power washed or your windows cleaned?" They tell you, "I just bought new windows a few months ago, and I have not had my house power washed in close to four or five years." At this point, there a few options as to where this conversation can go. There is the right way, and the wrong way.

The wrong way is trying to just make the sale as we talked about, and not really caring about the customer's needs. Basically, the customer already told you that they just installed new windows. That means that you shouldn't try to sell them on cleaning their windows. Therefore, you should only recommend the power washing.

By doing this and avoiding all window talk, you're also showing that you're listening to them. It should sound something like this coming from the sales person: " I wouldn't recommend having your windows cleaned because you just had new windows installed, and they look beautiful. However I would recommend that you get your home power washed, so your home can look as good as your new windows. When you need the windows cleaned, you can reach me at another time. How does that sound?"

It's right to the point, and you don't come off like you are trying to be too pushy. You simply sound like a friend with knowledge in a field that they need.

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