How to Improve the Buyer-Seller Relationship While Closing the Deal
by Cris Merz:
A few things you may be doing wrong with your customers… and you don’t even know it.
In one of my previous positions as Regional Manager for the Northeast I was able to find great success… but I didn’t necessarily know why it was happening. I was just going out and being myself and building relationships with my dealers. At the same time, I could not figure out why I was unable to get some deals to close while others happened with much ease. Was it the fact that they were happy with their existing agency organization, or was it me? If it was me, then I needed to fix that. If they simply did not feel any need to make a change in their business, then it was them. Maybe we just weren’t what they needed as a vendor, and I could accept that. However, I needed to try to understand what I may have been doing wrong that was affecting my ability or inability to close a deal. I attended a few courses with the University of San Francisco on Sales Management and I was able to find out some areas in which I could improve. I wanted to share some tips and pointers of what NOT to do with your customers because as a dive store owner or manager, the buyer-seller relationship may have several similarities in this field. I hope that you benefit from this article and find how you can improve your customers’ buying process.
Answering Objections the Customer Hasn’t Raised
Maybe what you perceive to be an issue for you or another customer is not a problem for this consumer. “Unfortunately, this mask doesn’t come in blue”. Now the customer is thinking, “Well, I didn’t want it in blue but hey – wait a minute, why doesn’t it come in blue?”
Fix: Never start any sentence with “You may be wondering…” or “Perhaps you’re asking yourself why this doesn’t…”
Leaving the ‘Next Step’ to the Customer
No kidding–you’re asking the customer to do your work for you.
Fix: Keep the ball in your court, especially when trying to book travel and you have a deadline to buy airfare. Try substituting a closer like this, “I will call you next week to talk about whether it makes sense to discuss this matter further.”
Like it or not, the minute you’re positioned in somebody’s mind as “a person who is trying to sell me something,” you’re fighting an uphill battle to win trust. Under those circumstances, the absolute worst thing you can do is to try to “suck up” by acting smarmy.
Fix: Remain personable and professional–and no more–until such time as you actually forge a friendship, which typically takes weeks.
Talking More Than Listening
As a sales person, I always thought I had to talk and talk and blah, blah, blah… All of the sudden it became about all things I could do and offer and not about what they wanted. It was now a full blown “look-at-me” sales pitch, and in some cases 90% of what I was saying was of no importance to the customer. He didn’t NEED that. He needed this. By the time I got to this, the buyer felt like I wasted his time and all I wanted to do was sell him something, anything, not necessarily what he needed.
Fix: In your mind, redefine selling as a passive activity that consists mostly of listening, considering, and reacting to what the customer does and says. Ensure your sales staff asks the consumer what they need, what they would like, and why… and go from there.
Failing to Follow Through
Building a customer relationship is about gradually building up enough trust to overcome the natural antipathy that most people feel toward sellers.
Fix: Get religious about your to-do list and scheduling of specific events. Make only commitments that you’re 100% certain you can keep. If you say you’ll have their reg serviced by the weekend so they can join the local club on a Saturday fun dive, do it. If you say you’ll get their replacement card by the time their trip to Fiji comes around the corner, do it. If you say you’ll have that awesome new 7mm in your store in time for them to pick it up on the way to the airport for their Galapagos trip, do it.
Treating a “Close” as the End of the Process
Maybe it’s the result of unfortunate terminology, but a lot of companies and sales people take “closing the deal” to mean that the sales activity is finito. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Fix: Always aim for long-term relationships rather than short-term revenue. In this way a “close” is the beginning of the process, not the end. You want them back for the second sale. To upgrade their equipment, to offer continuing education, to take them on trip to train their family… etc, etc.
So try to avoid these failed “tactics”. Stay on top of things, follow through, be genuine, follow through, listen and sell them what they want, follow through, don’t raise objections if they haven’t raised one, and be sure to follow through on what you promised. These tips may seem simple, and you may already apply it to your relationships with your customers, but is your staff doing the same? Find out and ask them. Get your whole store on the same page when that customer walks in through the door. They will have a much more user friendly buying experience if these tips are followed to the T… and your numbers should go up because of it.