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The 32 Worst Things You Can Do in Sales:

26. Misreading Customers

By Steven J. Schmidt (3/27/09)

As I have said numerous times, misreading customers is definitely one of the worst things that you can do in sales. If you do not understand a customer's behavior and where they are coming from, how do you expect to help them make a smart buying decision? How do you expect them to believe in your service or product? How do you expect to make your point, or convince them that you have an elite product or that you can provide the best service around? You will not be able to convince them of anything and you will not be able to even really gain their attention span for them to even listen to your sales pitch.

If you have a customer who is much more mild mannered or calm, you want to be able to adapt to their mood. For example, maybe that customer just had a funeral recently. You do not want to exclaim, "Hey there, I am so sorry for your loss, but I am so happy to be here to make sure you get the Triple AAA membership that we talked about over the phone. Aren't you excited ma'am?" That is a recipe for disaster and they will just say, "You know what, I feel kind of down and out right now, so can you please come back another time?"

You want to handle a situation like that in a calm and caring way. You want to say, "I am so sorry for your loss. I completely understand what you are going through, and if there is anything that I can do to help you, please let me know. In fact, we can take our time filling out the papers, or I can come back another time."

It is better to show the customer that you care than just making the sale sometimes. That sometimes would be this situation. When you contact them again, if they elect to not go with the membership right then and there, they will after their situation. Additionally, they will remember how much you cared, and you can get tons of referrals from them. The idea is to bring your energy down to the person's level if they are in a much more mellow level.

By the same token, when you have a customer who is much more excited and asking a million questions, you have to meet their intensity and energy. If you do not meet their energy and you do not give them detailed answers, well they will run all over you, they will take advantage of you, and you will not get the sale. You have to tell them, "I am so excited to be here to tell you what a great deal I have for you! This Triple AAA membership will not only be great if you get stuck somewhere, but you can save up to 15 percent for every hotel that you stay at. Tell me, that is not something you can not directly benefit from?"

Customers who are usually intense like you to not only match their intensity, but they want to know all the details. Therefore, you are going to want to tell them how fast Triple AAA is expected to be there in case of an emergency. They may want to know which hotels are eligible in order for him and his family to take advantage of the discount, especially because that's a strong selling point.

You do not want to tell the customer, "Well, I think you will benefit from our package, and there is some type of discount for going to different places." You are not showing enough energy, causing the customer to think that the product that you are selling isn't that good. Additionally, the fact that you do not know the direct answers to their question might tell the customer that the percentage might be 1 percent or something.

You have to be able to understand customer behavior styles. Customers who ask many questions are going to want specific details and then they will probably want a couple different options from you. A customer who is much more expressive but doesn't ask questions will probably want to know you as a person. They will want to build a rapport with you. From that relationship that you build with them, you can pretty much recommend whatever you think the best fit is for them, and they will trust you because you developed a relationship with them.

Like I said at the top, you must be able to read the customer. You have to go out of your way to listen to their tone of voice, look at their body language and see how the react to certain lines that you say. Understanding customers will make your road to success easier.

More from The 32 Worst Things You Can Do in Sales

  1. Walking Away - 2/16/09
  2. Not Looking Customers in the Eye - 2/16/09
  3. Talking Too Much - 2/16/09
  4. Not Listening to Customers - 2/16/09
  5. Not Knowing Your Product - 2/16/09
  6. Not Being Organized - 2/16/09
  7. Getting Distracted - 2/16/09
  8. Selling Price Alone - 2/16/09
  9. Not Getting Proper Rest - 2/17/09
  10. Getting Flustered (Lack of Production) - 2/19/09
  11. Leaving Territory Too Quickly - 2/20/09
  12. Being Rude to Customers - 2/23/09
  13. Being Too Content - 2/24/09
  14. Maintaining Poor Hygiene - 2/26/09
  15. Pressuring Customers - 2/28/09
  16. Not Having Fun - 3/2/09
  17. Not Closing - 3/3/09
  18. Lacking a Powerful Introduction - 3/4/09
  19. Not Following Up With Customers - 3/6/09
  20. Not Having a Strong Mentality - 3/8/09
  21. Lacking Discipline - 3/10/09
  22. Not Handling Objections - 3/12/09
  23. Sounding Desperate - 3/14/09
  24. Having Poor Customer Service - 3/17/09
  25. Not Taking a Vacation - 3/21/09
  26. Misreading Customers - 3/27/09
  27. Lacking a Unique Sales Identity - 3/31/09
  28. Not Letting Yourself Be Known - 4/6/09
  29. Not Having Patience - 4/9/09
  30. Not Holding Yourself Accountable - 4/11/09
  31. Hitting on a Customer's Wife - 4/13/09
  32. Acting Like a Salesperson - 4/23/09
  33. Overview - 5/23/09

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