You know the scenerio…a person walks into your showroom trying to look invisible and doing their best to avoid contact with anyone. What do you do? Put yourself in their shoes. They have a big decision to make. Should they spend a small fortune remodeling their kitchen or just sit tight?
On one hand, they are excited about how attractive an updated kitchen will be, but on the other hand they fear the amount of time and money it will take. They’ve done their research. They are walking in your showroom because they think you might have something they want and they want to see if they can find it.
As you approach the prospect, you make eye contact with one another. A small smile breaks across each of your faces, sort of an acknowledgement that you are about to speak to each other. As you approach them, a million things are running through your mind; most of them having to do with jobs you’re already working on.
Put yourself in their shoes
You greet one another and the prospect tells you they are only looking. But what are they really thinking?
You can darn well bet they’re thinking:
- “What is he going to try to sell me?”
- “Why should I trust him?”
- “How much is this going to cost?”
Most prospects assume salespeople are going to be of little to no value to them.
If you are in sales, you have about three seconds to turn this unfavorable assumption about you into a favorable impression. Those first three seconds set the stage for the rest of your relationship with the prospect. The impression you make in this first meeting will determine if you are treated as a servant who calculates prices and creates design, or as a trusted advisor who will help them make a big decision.
How do you become a trusted advisor? What do you say? What is the difference between success and failure? Focus. First, you have to shut everything else out of your mind and make that prospect the most important thing in your world.
Then follow this process:
1. Make a social connection
People buy from people they’re comfortable with, so your first order of business is to let this new prospect know that you are the type of person they would feel content doing business with. Work to get a conversation going. Ask what brought them into the store today or to comment on a neat new product that is in your showroom. The point is that you want them to share some information with you so you can show them that you listen to what they say.
2. Find some common social ground
Ask about where they live, their family or recreational activities that they engage in. You want to find a social topic that you can share with the prospect. Being able to talk about a common interest with them subtly says, “I am just like you and you can trust me.”
3. Let the prospect set the pace
If they want to quickly move to business, don’t frustrate them by talking endlessly about your trip to Florida. Ask questions to understand what they want. Don’t just try to understand the products they want, but try to understand why they want them. After you think you understand their situation you should repeat it back to them. When you do, they will think to themselves, “He understands me and can help me find what I want.” I cannot stress enough how showing you listen well creates a favorable impression.
4. Share a little about yourself
Tell a short story about how you helped a person in a very similar situation to theirs. Tell them about the frustrations the customer had and how you helped them find a solution, how the solution was delivered and how much the customer enjoyed it. Tell details and make the story vivid. This will get your new prospect thinking, “I need to listen to this person because they can help me make a good decision.”
5. Talk a little about your company
Tell specifically how your company can deliver something uniquely valuable to this prospect. You can talk about service, quality, one-stop shopping or fast delivery, but you must be specific. “We have great service” means nothing, but talking about a company policy that ensures all service calls are returned within 4 hours and all problems are addressed within 24 hours means everything. Soon, the prospect is thinking that this dealership offers him something uniquely valuable for his money.
This series of steps quickly turns the prospects negative assumptions about a salesperson into a positive impression of you. You have set the stage to ask detailed questions about their project, time frames, budget and other dealerships they have visited in a stress free manner. As an advisor, these are all legitimate questions you need answered to make excellent recommendations.
By following these few simple techniques, you have set the stage for winning the sale. You have taken yourself from being in a poor selling position to a position of influence. As a trusted advisor you guide a prospect smoothly to a decision on what to buy and from whom. The key is using the relationship you established in this first meeting to guide them to making a decision while allowing the prospect to feel like they are always in control.